Social Media

Dumpster Fire at KBoards?

19 September 2018

PG just received a tip that a change in Terms of Service at KBoards has upset a great many long-time participants.

PG did some quick checking at this link and elsewhere and discovered a lot of people who want to delete their Kboards accounts and all their posts, but are unable to do so.

Evidently, the estate of the now-deceased founder and proprietor of KBoards sold the operation to a business group with which PG was not previously familiar. The new owners have changed the Terms of Service and several posts indicate that KBoards moderators are in the dark about what’s going on.

The new owner appears to be VerticalScope Inc., a privately-held corporation headquartered in Toronto. VerticalScope evidently purchases vertically-oriented web properties. The company’s website lists sites in the following categories:

  • Automotive
  • Powersports
  • Technology
  • Sports
  • Outdoor Equipment
  • Pets
  • Outdoor
  • Home Improvement
  • Hobbies & Collectibles
  • Health & Wellness

PG searched for KBoards on the VerticalScope website but was unable to discover into which vertical the company plans to place KBoards. PG checked the VerticalScope Press Release page but could find no mention of KBoards.

VerticalScope further describes its business strategy as follows:

We leverage our deep in-house expertise in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Internet marketing, and traffic acquisition to build highly targeted, successful online communities and websites. Our arsenal of tools includes a significant portfolio of irreplaceable, generic domain names we have acquired over the past decade. These domains drive organic type-in traffic to our web properties resulting in hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts arriving at our network every month by means of direct navigation.

Through targeted acquisitions and development, VerticalScope has built a portfolio of more than 600+ websites with more than 25 million aggregate pages of content and more than 105 Million unique visitors per month – and growing.

It appears VerticalScope lists its job openings on LinkedIn.

When PG checked, there were two job openings. Support Representative and Account Executive, (Digital).

Here’s an excerpt from the job description for the Support Representative:

Responsibilities:

Review flagged ratings, doctor verification requests, doctor profile updates and other related information
Clearly and consistently enforce RateMDs’ review standards
Respond promptly to users’ inquiries by email or phone
Triage requests and unresolved issues to the designated internal stakeholder group
Lead onboarding sessions for new clients
Troubleshoot and report site issues
Answer emails/tickets professionally
Research required information using available resources
Identify and escalate priority issues
Manage and monitor the forum for spam and user compliance
Assist with quality assurance and testing of new products and features
Contact and solicit feedback from churned organic clients
Generate and update patient, provider and internal facing usage, review and support guidelines
Generate and refine usage guidelines for forum users and staff
Take part in onboarding of new RateMDs support staff
Guide users through navigating and using the sit

Qualifications:

Post-secondary degree, diploma or equivalent
Strong interpersonal skills, tact and discretion
Customer service orientation
Ability to communicate clearly and concisely, both orally and in writing
A capacity for working well under pressure, meeting set objectives and capability to generate responsible solutions to day-to-day problems
Knowledge of customer service principles and practices
Knowledge of relevant computer applications, such as word, excel, vBulletin, internet explorer / firefox / chrome
High attention to detail and accuracy
Strong ability to prioritize and pivot as necessary
Ability to recognize and adapt to changing conditions, including re-definition of role as needed
Start-up experience, a plus
Experience in a health practice or clinic environment is an asset
Interest in IT, including internet media is an asset
Ability to learn quickly and work with minimal supervision
Understanding of forum communities an asset

And for the Account Executive (Digital) position:

We are seeking a client-facing Account Executive with responsibility for Sales Prospecting, Lead Management, Client Communication, Customer Service, and aggressive Revenue Growth for a defined Sales Territory.

Act as both a Social Media consultant and subject matter expert on our assorted products, services, tools and sponsorship programs
Manage a portfolio of new and existing clients with a view towards revenue and territory growth that meets or exceeds company targets
Interact with Ad Operations, Sales Support, Finance, Community Management and Editorial teams as required to execute successful online advertising campaigns and sponsorships for clients
Represent the company at industry events and tradeshows in order to generate new revenue opportunities and strengthen client relationships
Negotiate costs and terms of online campaigns with clients
Actively prospect for new business opportunities and ways to increase revenue
Utilize Salesforce CRM software to track daily sales activities and schedule appropriate communication activities with client base
Develop and maintain Revenue Forecasting and Sales Reporting tools as outlined by company policies and timelines

Desired Skills and Experience

2-3 years of Online sales experience, preferably in Media Sales
General understanding of Marketing, Advertising and emerging Social Media trends
University or College-level education
Proficient in MS Office, SalesForce (or other CRM) software
Above-average communication skills
Entrepreneurial skills, ability to thrive in growing organization
Willingness to travel and attend industry events/meetings across North America.
Team player with experience at collaborating with cross-functional teams
Cost negotiation skills and demonstrated ability to close business
Experience managing large and diverse portfolio of clients with varying sales cycles
Exceptionally well-organized
Interest and experience in the automotive or outdoor pursuits sector is a valuable asset

At the end of this post is a copy of the new KBoards Terms of Use and Notices evidently created by VerticalScope.

PG hasn’t had a chance to comb through this document in detail, but a quick scan revealed the following interesting (at least to PG) provisions. VerticalScope doesn’t include paragraph numbers, so if you want to see any of this in context, you’ll need to do a word search. Other than the section headings, emphasis is PG’s:

 

Submissions

By posting/sending a message in any public electronic forum on the Web Site, you agree to have that message along with your name and/or user name posted for public viewing both here and in other promotional and advertising materials and on other VerticalScope Inc. web sites, without compensation. KBOARDS.COM does not undertake to necessarily post every submission. All messages that are posted here represent the opinions of the individuals or organizations posting those messages, and do not express the ideas or opinions of KBOARDS.COM or VerticalScope Inc. You may copy the posted messages for personal use, but redistribution in any way requires the written permission of KBOARDS.COM. In consideration of this authorization, you agree that any copy you make of any message(s) located on this web site shall retain all copyright and other proprietary notices contained therein.

You represent and warrant that: (i) you own the content posted by you on or through the Web Site or otherwise have the right to grant the license set forth below, and (ii) the Posting of your content does not violate the privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, contract rights or any other rights of any person.

You agree to grant to KBOARDS.COM a non exclusive, royalty free, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual license to reproduce, distribute, transmit, sublicense, create derivative works of, publicly display, publish and perform any materials and other information you submit to any public areas, chat rooms, bulletin boards, newsgroups or forums of KBOARDS.COM or which you provide by email or any other means to KBOARDS.COM and in any media now known or hereafter developed. Further, you grant to KBOARDS.COM the right to use your name and or user name in connection with the submitted materials and other information as well as in connection with all advertising, marketing and promotional material related thereto, together with use on any other VerticalScope Inc. web sites. You agree that you shall have no recourse against VerticalScope Inc. for any alleged or actual infringement or misappropriation of any proprietary right in your communications to KBOARDS.COM.

. . . .

Preservation of Intellectual Property Rights

All material on this site, including, but not limited to images, illustrations and multimedia materials, is protected by copyrights which are owned and controlled by KBOARDS.COM or by other parties that have licensed their material to KBOARDS.COM. Material from this Web Site or from any other web site owned, operated, licensed or controlled by VerticalScope Inc. may not be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, transmitted, or distributed in any way. Modification of the materials or use of the materials for any other purpose is a violation of the copyrights and other proprietary rights held by the respective providers thereof. The use of any such material on any other web site, ftp server or network environment is prohibited.

. . . .

Classified Advertising

The Web Site may include certain classified advertising services. When you submit a classified ad for publication on the Web Site, you agree that the advertisement as it appears on the Web Site becomes our property and you assign all ownership interest in the advertisement as it appears on the Web Site under copyright law or otherwise to us.

 

Here’s the entire VerticalScope TOU:

KBOARDS.COM

WEB SITE TERMS & CONDITIONS OF USE

KBOARDS.COM is owned and operated by VerticalScope Inc. of Toronto, Ontario.

KBOARDS.COM reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time, and you agree that each visit you make to KBOARDS.COM shall be subject to the current terms and conditions as published on our website at www.KBOARDS.COM (the ‘Web Site’)

General Terms of Use

By accessing KBOARDS.COM you are agreeing to be bound by these Web Site Terms & Conditions of Use and all applicable laws and regulations, and you agree that you are solely responsible for compliance with any applicable local laws. If you do not agree with any of these terms, do not use this site. Any claim relating to KBOARDS.COM shall be governed by the laws of the Province of Ontario, Canada. The materials contained on the Web Site are protected by applicable copyright and trademark laws.

Internet Etiquette

Electronic forums such as email distribution lists, web-based forums, and classified advertising lists that may be provided by KBOARDS.COM have ground rules and established etiquette for posting messages or material to these forums. Users should be considerate of the expectations and sensitivities of others on the network when posting material for electronic distribution. You may not use the Web Site to impersonate another person or misrepresent that you have authorization to act on behalf of KBOARDS.COM or any other party. All messages transmitted by you should correctly identify you as the sender. Any attempt to alter the system configuration, to breach the security of the network, to gain unauthorized access to other users. email accounts, or any other attempt at ‘hacking’, is prohibited, and will result in the immediate cancellation of all access and privileges and the possibility of criminal and/or civil charges being brought.

Disclaimer and Limitation of Liability

Throughout the Web Site we have provided links and pointers to Internet sites maintained by third parties, sometimes through third party advertisements. Our linking to such third-party sites does not imply an endorsement or sponsorship of such sites, or the information, products or services offered on or through the sites. In addition, neither we nor any of our respective affiliated companies operate or control in any respect any information, products or services that third parties may provide on or through the Web Site or on websites linked to by us on the Web Site.

THE INFORMATION, PRODUCTS AND SERVICES OFFERED ON OR THROUGH THE SITE AND ANY THIRD-PARTY SITES ARE PROVIDED “AS IS” AND WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMISSIBLE PURSUANT TO APPLICABLE LAW, WE DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. WE DO NOT WARRANT THAT THE SITE OR ANY OF ITS FUNCTIONS WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR-FREE, THAT DEFECTS WILL BE CORRECTED, OR THAT ANY PART OF THIS SITE, INCLUDING BULLETIN BOARDS, OR THE SERVERS THAT MAKE IT AVAILABLE, ARE FREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS.

WE DO NOT WARRANT OR MAKE ANY REPRESENTATIONS REGARDING THE USE OR THE RESULTS OF THE USE OF THE SITE OR MATERIALS ON THIS SITE OR ON THIRD-PARTY SITES IN TERMS OF THEIR CORRECTNESS, ACCURACY, TIMELINESS, RELIABILITY OR OTHERWISE.

You must provide and are solely responsible for all hardware and/or software necessary to access the Web Site. You assume the entire cost of and responsibility for any damage to, and all necessary maintenance, repair or correction of, that hardware and/or software.

The Web Site is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for trading or investing purposes, or for commercial use. The Web Site should not be used in any high risk activities where damage or injury to persons, property, environment, finances or business may result if an error occurs. You expressly assume all risk for such use.

Certain sections of the Web Site may allow you to purchase many different types of products and services online that are provided by third parties. We are not responsible for the quality, accuracy, timeliness, reliability or any other aspect of these products and services. If you make a purchase from a merchant on the Web Site or on a site linked to by the Web Site, the information obtained during your visit to that merchant’s online store or site, and the information that you give as part of the transaction, such as your credit card number and contact information, may be collected by both the merchant and us. A merchant may have privacy and data collection practices that are different from ours. We have no responsibility or liability for these independent policies. In addition, when you purchase products or services on or through the Web Site, you may be subject to additional terms and conditions that specifically apply to your purchase or use of such products or services. For more information regarding a merchant, its online store, its privacy policies, and/or any additional terms and conditions that may apply, visit that merchant’s website and click on its information links or contact the merchant directly. You release us and our affiliates from any damages that you incur, and agree not to assert any claims against us or them, arising from your purchase or use of any products or services made available by third parties through the Web Site.

You agree to be financially responsible for all purchases made by you or someone acting on your behalf through the Web Site. You agree to use the Web Site and to purchase services or products through the Web Site for legitimate purposes only. You also agree not to make any purchases for speculative, false or fraudulent purposes. You agree to only purchase goods or services for yourself or for another person for whom you are legally permitted to do so. When making a purchase for a third party that requires you to submit the third party’s personal information to us or a merchant, you represent that you have obtained the express consent of such third party to provide such third party’s personal information.

In no event shall KBOARDS.COM or its service providers, affiliates, associates, subsidiaries or partners be liable for any damages, including, without limitation, damages for loss of data or profit, or due to business interruption, arising out of the use of or inability to use the materials contained on the Web Site even if KBOARDS.COM has been notified of the possibility of such damage. Some jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion of implied warranties, so the above exclusion may not apply to you. This disclaimer of liability applies to any damages or injury caused by any failure of performance, error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, computer virus, communication line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, alteration of, or use of record, whether for breach of contract, tortious behavior, negligence, or under any other cause of action.

The information and opinions expressed in Bulletin Boards, Chat Rooms, or other electronic forums conducted on the Web Site are not necessarily those of KBOARDS.COM or its service providers, affiliates, associates, subsidiaries or partners and KBOARDS.COM makes no representations or warranties regarding that information or those opinions. Neither KBOARDS.COM or its service providers, affiliates, associates, subsidiaries or partners shall be responsible or liable to any person or entity whatsoever for any loss, damage (whether actual, consequential, punitive or otherwise), injury, claim, liability or other cause of any kind or character whatsoever based upon or resulting from any information or opinions provided in such forums.

Limited License

KBOARDS.COM hereby grants you a limited license to view on your computer, print, or download any content made available on the Web Site for which a fee is not charged, for non-commercial, personal, or educational purposes only. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing you may not make any commercial use of such content, either alone or in or with any product which you distribute, or copy or host such content on your or any other person.s web site or FTP server. Nothing contained in this limited license shall be deemed as conferring any right in any copyright, trademark, trade name or other proprietary property of KBOARDS.COM or any other party who owns or has proprietary rights to the content, information and materials provided on the Web Site.

Preservation of Intellectual Property Rights

All material on this site, including, but not limited to images, illustrations and multimedia materials, is protected by copyrights which are owned and controlled by KBOARDS.COM or by other parties that have licensed their material to KBOARDS.COM. Material from this Web Site or from any other web site owned, operated, licensed or controlled by VerticalScope Inc. may not be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, transmitted, or distributed in any way. Modification of the materials or use of the materials for any other purpose is a violation of the copyrights and other proprietary rights held by the respective providers thereof. The use of any such material on any other web site, ftp server or network environment is prohibited.

Changes and Improvements

KBOARDS.COM may make changes, improvements, alterations or amendments in and to the products, services, information and materials contained on the Web Site including the terms and conditions of your use of this Web Site, without liability.

Jurisdictional Issues

Due to the nature of the Internet, it is not possible for KBOARDS.COM to restrict access to its web site only to those jurisdictions in which it does business. Some or all of the products and services offered on this web site may not be eligible for solicitation in your jurisdiction. If you are accessing this web site from such a jurisdiction, you should not consider anything on this site as an offer to sell or as a solicitation to the public to purchase any product or service from KBOARDS.COM. This site is for use only by persons residing in jurisdictions where such products and services may legally be sold.

KBOARDS.COM offers services and programs in many parts of the world. The web site may refer to certain services or programs that are not available worldwide. Without specifically limiting the offers made on this web site, reference to such services or programs does not imply that KBOARDS.COM intends to offer such service or programs in all countries or locations.

Unless otherwise specified, the materials contained on the Web Site are presented solely for the purpose of providing information to persons primarily located in Ontario, Canada. This site is controlled and operated by VerticalScope Inc. from its offices in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. KBOARDS.COM makes no representation that any of the materials contained in the Web Site are appropriate or available for use in other locations or jurisdictions. Those who choose to access this site from other locations do so on their own initiative and are responsible for compliance with local laws, if and to the extent local laws are applicable.

This agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the Province of Ontario and the laws of Canada and users of the Web Site irrevocably attorn to the jurisdiction of the courts of the Province of Ontario. Any provisions of this Agreement which are or may be rendered invalid, unenforceable or illegal, shall be ineffective only to the extent of such invalidity, unenforceability or illegality, without affecting the validity, enforceability or legality of the remaining provisions of this Agreement. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties pertaining to the subject matter hereof and supersedes all prior and contemporaneous agreements, understandings, negotiations and discussions, whether oral or written, of the parties.

Privacy

KBOARDS.COM appreciates and respects the privacy concerns of the visitors to its web site. Certain information may be recorded by VerticalScope Inc. and KBOARDS.COM as a matter of course by KBOARDS.COM.s servers in order to track the number of visitors to the Web Site and to help provide an enhanced online experience for the visitor. The type of information tracked by our servers may include the browser and operating system in use by the visitor and the domain name of the visitor.s Internet service provider. Collecting this information allows KBOARDS.COM to optimize the visitor.s web site experience. E mail addresses and other personally identifiable data about visitors to this site are known to KBOARDS.COM only if and when voluntarily submitted by the visitor, for example through the registration process. All personal information collected by KBOARDS.COM is retained by VerticalScope Inc. and/or KBOARDS.COM, and not sold or otherwise provided to third parties, unless there is a disposition of KBOARDS.COM or of part or all of VerticalScope Inc..s business. KBOARDS.COM sometimes uses email addresses and other personally identifiable information to communicate with visitors who have provided KBOARDS.COM with their email addresses. Visitors should be aware that when they voluntarily disclose personal information on bulletin boards or in chat areas, that information can be collected and used by others and may result in unsolicited messages from other parties, notwithstanding that this is expressly prohibited by these Terms and Conditions of Use.

Many of KBOARDS.COM’s web pages may place a ‘cookie’ in the browser files of a visitor’s computer. The cookie itself may not contain any personal information. Although cookies may enable KBOARDS.COM to relate a visitor’s use of the Web Site to information that the visitor may have specifically and knowingly provided, KBOARDS.COM does not do so for any sites specifically designed for and aimed at children. KBOARDS.COM believes that parents should supervise their children’s online activities and should consider using parental control tools available from online services and software manufacturers that help provide a kid-friendly online environment. These tools can also prevent children from disclosing online any personal information without parental permission.

Submissions

By posting/sending a message in any public electronic forum on the Web Site, you agree to have that message along with your name and/or user name posted for public viewing both here and in other promotional and advertising materials and on other VerticalScope Inc. web sites, without compensation. KBOARDS.COM does not undertake to necessarily post every submission. All messages that are posted here represent the opinions of the individuals or organizations posting those messages, and do not express the ideas or opinions of KBOARDS.COM or VerticalScope Inc. You may copy the posted messages for personal use, but redistribution in any way requires the written permission of KBOARDS.COM. In consideration of this authorization, you agree that any copy you make of any message(s) located on this web site shall retain all copyright and other proprietary notices contained therein.

You represent and warrant that: (i) you own the content posted by you on or through the Web Site or otherwise have the right to grant the license set forth below, and (ii) the Posting of your content does not violate the privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, contract rights or any other rights of any person.

You agree to grant to KBOARDS.COM a non exclusive, royalty free, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual license to reproduce, distribute, transmit, sublicense, create derivative works of, publicly display, publish and perform any materials and other information you submit to any public areas, chat rooms, bulletin boards, newsgroups or forums of KBOARDS.COM or which you provide by email or any other means to KBOARDS.COM and in any media now known or hereafter developed. Further, you grant to KBOARDS.COM the right to use your name and or user name in connection with the submitted materials and other information as well as in connection with all advertising, marketing and promotional material related thereto, together with use on any other VerticalScope Inc. web sites. You agree that you shall have no recourse against VerticalScope Inc. for any alleged or actual infringement or misappropriation of any proprietary right in your communications to KBOARDS.COM.

KBOARDS.COM reserves the right to overwrite or replace any affiliate, commercial, or monetizable links, posted by users of KBOARDS.COM, with our own internal tracking. You agree not to post or otherwise make available content that constitutes or contains “affiliate marketing,” “link referral code,” or “unsolicited commercial advertisement.”

In order to maintain an informative and valuable service that meets the needs of the users of the Web Site and avoids the harm that can result from disseminating statements that are false, malicious, in violation of the rights of others, or otherwise harmful, it is necessary to establish the following rules to protect against abuse.

You may not:

Restrict or inhibit any other user from using and enjoying the Web Site.
Use the Web Site to impersonate any person or entity, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity.
Interfere with or disrupt any servers or networks used to provide the Web Site or its features, or disobey any requirements, procedures, policies or regulations of the networks we use to provide the Web Site.
Use the Web Site to instigate or encourage others to commit illegal activities or cause injury or property damage or interfere with business interests or contractual relations of any person.
Gain unauthorized access to the Web Site, or any account, computer system, or network connected to this Web Site, by means such as hacking, password mining or other illicit means.
Obtain or attempt to obtain any materials or information through any means not intentionally made available through this Web Site.
Use the Web Site to post or transmit any unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane or indecent information of any kind, including without limitation any transmissions constituting or encouraging conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability or otherwise violate any local, state, provincial, national or international law.
Use the Web Site to post or transmit any information, software or other material that violates or infringes upon the rights of others, including material that is an invasion of privacy or publicity rights or that is protected by copyright, trademark or other proprietary right, or derivative works with respect thereto, without first obtaining permission from the owner or rights holder.
Use the Web Site to post or transmit any information, software or other material that contains a virus or other harmful component.
Use the Web Site to post, transmit or in any way exploit any information, software or other material for commercial purposes, or that contains advertising.
Use the Web Site to advertise or solicit to anyone to buy or sell products or services, to cease using the Web Site, to visit another competing Web Site, or to make donations of any kind, without our express written approval.
Gather for marketing purposes any email addresses or other personal information that has been posted by other users of the Site.
You agree to indemnify KBOARDS.COM and VerticalScope Inc. and each of its officers, directors, employees, agents, distributors and affiliates from and against any and all third party claims, demands, liabilities, costs, or expenses, including reasonable legal fees, resulting from your breach of any of the foregoing provisions.

You understand that we have no obligation to monitor any bulletin boards, chat rooms, web logs, or other areas of the Web Site through which users can supply information or material. However, we reserve the right at all times to disclose any information we believe necessary to satisfy any law, regulation or governmental request, or to refuse to post or to remove any information or materials, in whole or in part, that in our sole discretion are objectionable or in violation of these Terms and Conditions of Service. We also reserve the right to deny access to the Web Site or any features of the Web Site to anyone, for any reasons, including as a result of persons who violate these Terms and Conditions of Service or who, in our sole judgment, interferes with the ability of others to enjoy our website or infringes the rights of others.

To access certain features of the Web Site, we may ask you to provide certain demographic information including your gender, year of birth, zip code and country. In addition, if you elect to sign-up for a particular feature of the Web Site, such as chat rooms, web logs, or bulletin boards, you may also be asked to register with us on the form provided and such registration may require you to provide personally identifiable information such as your name and email address. You agree to provide true, accurate, current and complete information about yourself as prompted by the Web Site’s registration form. If we have reasonable grounds to suspect that such information is untrue, inaccurate, or incomplete, we have the right to suspend or terminate your account and refuse any and all current or future use of the Web Site (or any portion thereof). Our use of any personally identifiable information you provide to us as part of the registration process is governed by the terms of our Privacy Policy.

Copyright Infringement Policy

KBOARDS.COM and VerticalScope Inc. reserve the right, but not the obligation, to terminate your license to use the Web Site if determined in the sole and absolute discretion of KBOARDS.COM or VerticalScope Inc. that you are involved in infringing activity, including alleged acts of first-time or repeat infringement, regardless of whether the material or activity is ultimately determined to be infringing. KBOARDS.COM and VerticalScope Inc. accommodate and do not interfere with standard technical measures used by copyright owners to protect their materials. In addition, KBOARDS.COM and VerticalScope Inc. have implemented procedures for receiving written notification of claimed infringements and for processing such claims. If you are a copyright owner who believes your copyrighted material has been reproduced, posted or distributed via the Web Site in a manner that constitutes copyright infringement, please inform our designated copyright agent by sending a written complaint that complies with the requirements below to our designated agent by registered mail or courier:

VerticalScope Legal Department
111 Peter Street, Suite 901
Toronto, ON
M5V 2H1
CANADA
mailto: legal@verticalscope.com

Please include the following information in your written notice regarding any defamatory, or infringing activity, whether of a copyright, patent, trademark or other proprietary right: (1) a detailed description of the copyrighted work that is allegedly infringed upon; (2) a description of the location of the allegedly infringing material on the Web Site; (3) your contact information, including your address, telephone number, and, if available, email address; (4) a statement by you indicating that you have a good-faith belief that the allegedly infringing use is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law; (5) a statement by you, made under penalty of perjury, affirming that the information in your notice is accurate and that you are authorized to act on the copyright owner’s behalf; and (6) an electronic or physical signature of the copyright owner or someone authorized on the owner’s behalf to assert infringement of copyright and to submit the statement.

Upon the receipt of written notice compliant with the requirements set out above, it is the policy of KBOARDS.COM and VerticalScope Inc. to remove the allegedly infringing material from the Web Site.

KBOARDS.COM and VerticalScope Inc. will deny access to the Web Site or any features of the Web Site to anyone who is the found to be the source of allegedly infringing material and after a warning from KBOARDS.COM, continues to post allegedly infringing material.

Passwords

To use certain features of the Web Site, you will need a username and password, which you will receive through the Web Site’s registration process. You are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of the password and account, and are responsible for all activities (whether by you or by others) that occur under your password or account. You agree to notify us immediately of any unauthorized use of your password or account or any other breach of security, and to ensure that you exit from your account at the end of each session. We cannot and will not be liable for any loss or damage arising from your failure to protect your password or account information.

Classified Advertising

The Web Site may include certain classified advertising services. When you submit a classified ad for publication on the Web Site, you agree that the advertisement as it appears on the Web Site becomes our property and you assign all ownership interest in the advertisement as it appears on the Web Site under copyright law or otherwise to us. Submission of an advertisement does not constitute a commitment to publish the advertisement, and publication of an advertisement does not constitute an agreement for continued publication. We will accept only standard abbreviations and require proper punctuation. We reserve the right to edit, reclassify, revise, reject or cancel any advertisement at any time, in our sole discretion. Rates and specifications, if any, are subject to change.

Termination

We may cancel or terminate your right to use the Web Site or any part of the Web Site at any time without notice. In the event of cancellation or termination, you are no longer authorized to access the part of the Web Site affected by such cancellation or termination. The restrictions imposed on you with respect to material downloaded from the Web Site, and the disclaimers and limitations of liabilities set forth in these Terms and Conditions of Service, shall survive.

Why Can’t We Stop Instagramming Our Books?

16 September 2018

From Medium:

Back in April, The New York Times noted an Instagram trend: NYRB Classics were popping up everywhere. The imprint, issued by the New York Review of Books, “specializes in reissuing volumes that have fallen out of print or been otherwise neglected,” the Times reported, yet the books have now “become design objects and totems of intellectual status.”

What attracted people to this relatively obscure set of books? Their design. Their dimensions (in photos shot from above) are identical, their cover layouts are standardized. But their spines are varying, seemingly random, colors. Arranged together — for instance, on a shelf — they are chaos within limits, and perfectly Instagrammable.

This was, by all appearances, unintentional. The NYRB Classics line didn’t set out to be an Instagram favorite; they’ve looked the same for ages. But that reversal of intent might now be occurring elsewhere in the publishing world as, more and more, book jackets are designed with social media in mind.

Of course, books aren’t off-limits as Instagrammable objects. Aesthetic appreciation of books might be more worthwhile than fetishizing other consumer products. Yet, literary purists are likely depressed by the idea that book covers could be designed to be purposefully displayed as totems — that is, as reflections of the reader’s taste and style — without an awareness of the words inside. After all, whatever happened to not judging a book by its cover?

But maybe all is not lost. Maybe sharing book covers on Instagram isn’t just about projecting intellect or lifestyle. Maybe books — as objects used to display one’s taste — are fundamentally different from furniture or clothes. Maybe there’s more beneath the filter.

. . . .

We are not the first generation to spend time arranging the books on our shelves for public display. As far back as the 16th century, members of high society in Britain elaborately embroidered book covers as an alternative to leather binding. In the late 1800s, the craft underwent a revival.

“In a variety of publications, from magazines to histories of bookbinding and collecting, middle-class Englishwomen were encouraged to ply their needles within an explicitly patriotic historical tradition,” Jessica Roberson, an Ahmanson-Getty postdoctoral fellow at UCLA, wrote earlier this year in a review of a spate of late-19th century book embroidery histories.

Link to the rest at Medium

As a consequence of PG’s sheltered life, he had never heard of book embroidery.

In the event one or two of the visitors to TPV are in the same sorry state of ignorance, here is an example of book embroidery. It is the embroidered cover to a 1578 edition of The Epistles of St. Paul, owned by Queen Elisabeth.

Here is yet another example of book embroidery.

As PG is certain many have immediately surmised, this is an embroidered book cover for Henshaw’s Horae Successivae (1632), white satin with a floral design edged in gold cord, featured in Cyril Davenport’s English Embroidered Book-bindings (1899).

PG must note that he has always preferred the 1891 edition of Davenport’s masterpiece due to a better job of typesetting. The 1899 edition was basically a rush job necessary to meet unexpected demand when Lord Curzon praised it as the definitive work in its field and said he would be taking his copy to India.

As members of a particularly astute group, visitors to TPV have undoubtedly realized that causing the death of book embroidery is yet another sin one may be accused of committing when one purchases an ebook instead of a printed book.

If you are one of those sinners and need a snappy retort, you can point out that Amazon offers handmade fabric iPad covers created by Hmong artisans living in the Lanna district of Northern Thailand. You can also ask any critics whether they realize that the northern Hmong tribes originate from the Tibetan area of China, so they are refugee artisans. Additional points may be awarded for this attribute.

Analyst warns Facebook investors: “systemic mismanagement” poses big risks

17 August 2018

From Fast Company:

Headlines over the past few weeks–nay, years–have been hard on Facebook. If it’s not a story detailing how the company mismanaged user data, it’s another scathing report about how it misleads customers, can’t get fake news under control, or is killing the news business.

And analysts are getting increasingly worried.

Yesterday, an advertiser filed a lawsuit, seeking class-action status, over Facebook allegedly misrepresenting its “Potential Reach” statistic. In Myanmar, the company’s attempt to fight hate speech is reportedly going terribly. The list goes on.

With all of this, Pivotal analyst Brian Wieser sees a big problem. Though he’s given the company a “sell” rating for a while, these latest headlines further bolster his opinion. “Although we don’t have a tangible sense of financial consequences these situations may bring they are illustrative of systemic mis-management at the company which is mostly under-appreciated as risks by investors,” he writes in a new note.

Link to the rest at Fast Company

PG suspects he’s not the only one who has substantially reduced his time on Facebook in recent months after the deluge of negative publicity, but that’s not the worst thing from Facebook’s standpoint.

The worst thing is that PG has found he doesn’t really miss Facebook.

How to Set up Google Alerts (and Use It to Grow Your Business)

16 August 2018

From Ahrefs Blog:

Do you want to monitor the web for mentions of your name? Or perhaps your business? Or maybe even your competitor? Google Alerts can do this.

It’s simple to use. You enter a word or phrase, and you’ll be alerted by email whenever Google finds new mentions on the web.

. . . .

But Google Alerts is useful for more than just boosting your ego. Tracking mentions related to your business or brand can unveil opportunities for link building, brand building, collaborations, and more.

It’s a free tool that’s well-suited to beginners. But, despite being owned by Google, it doesn’t catch all web mentions.

How do we know? Because we have a web monitoring tool called Ahrefs Alerts. When we ran a small experiment to compare the number of results found by each tool, we found that, on average, Ahrefs Alerts returned 2,376% more results.

. . . .

How to set up Google Alerts

  1. Go to google.com/alerts
  2. Enter a search term to track. Google Alerts will display a results preview as you type.
  3. Select “Show options” (below the search box). Choose how often you’d like to receive alerts: once a day; as it happens; once a week.
  4. Choose a source for your alerts: web; blogs; news; etc. If you’re unsure, leave this as the default “automatic.”
  5. Choose a language and region.
  6. Choose how many results you want to see: “all results,” or “only the best results.”
  7. Choose a delivery email address (this is where Google will send your alerts).
  8. Select “Create alert.”

. . . .

No matter how hard you work to keep your customers happy, you can’t please everyone.

Because of this, negative reviews can be a problem for all businesses.

Monitoring brand mentions should uncover negative reviews. But if your business gets mentioned a lot, these can be easy to miss. It is, therefore, worth setting up a Google Alert just for reviews.

For that, you can use: [brand name] + intitle:review

This will alert you to any new reviews of your business. Some of which may be negative.

. . . .

Spying on your competitors can unveil marketing tactics that you can use in your business.

. . . .

Plus, if a site is mentioning and linking to a competitor, they might also be willing to link to you.

. . . .

If a page mentions multiple competitors but neglects to include you, it presents an opportunity to introduce you and your business to the site owner.

. . . .

Most businesses publish new blog content on a regular basis, including your competitors.

Keeping an eye on what the competition is putting out there can help you to discover new topic ideas for your blog. It also keeps you in the know, should they publish competing content.

. . . .

Using Google Alerts, then, is a much better option.

Link to the rest at Ahrefs Blog

For visitors to TPV who are not familiar with Google Alerts, they operate just like a Google Search, but are running all the time.

If you use Google to search for your pen name to learn who and where you’re being mentioned, using the same search terms in a Google Alert will keep the search running continuously and email you when your pen name initially appears in a new post, website, etc.

PG has been doing something like this for many years using Google Alerts and, before that, LexisNexis (for whom he worked for three unhappy years, but from whom he obtained free access credentials that lasted for over ten years after he quit). He just counted and learned he is currently running 41 Google Alerts on a variety of topics.

As the OP indicates, these tools can provide a lot of good and actionable information about who is talking about you online and what they are saying. For example, readers of your books might appreciate a short thank you email from you if they mention you or one of your books on a blog.

PG does recommend some good sense and caution so you don’t give the impression you are operating an all-seeing eye that hovers over the internet. “My automated online surveillance system just discovered you posted a bad review and I demand an immediate retraction,” is not the effect you’re looking for.

Preserve challenged ads/social media posts after receiving a C&D or risk sanctions

13 August 2018

From Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log:

A spoliation/false advertising issue.  “While Defendants produced some social media documents, the production did not include Facebook or Twitter posts relating to the illicit products identified in the complaint.” For a finding of spoliation, a party must show that “(1) the party with control over the evidence had an obligation to preserve it at the time of destruction; (2) the evidence was destroyed with a ‘culpable state of mind’; and (3) the evidence was relevant to the party’s claim or defense.”

After plaintiff’s demand letter and complaint, which identified the products and ads at issue, defendants had an obligation to preserve relevant posts on their social media sites.  There was evidence of a culpable mental state, where a deponent responded to a question about whether the deleted posts had anything to do with this lawsuit, with “It’s possible. Actually, it was — I think it had more to do with any copycat companies, law firms like yours trying to file the same frivolous lawsuit.” When asked about deleting posts related to marketing one of the products at issue, he responded, “I have the right to do whatever I want to do with my Facebook account, regardless of a lawsuit or not.” His declaration that no posts were deleted intentionally for purposes of litigation/post-filing was inconsistent with his deposition testimony and unsupported by evidence. Destruction after notice/negligence is sufficent to be culpable.

Link to the rest at Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log

As the OP says, this case involves a legal principle called spoliation (not spoilation, but if spoilation were a word, it might mean about the same thing).

Here’s a definition:

Spoliation is the destruction or alteration of a document that destroys its value as evidence in a legal proceeding. Soliation often carries an inference of intentional destruction in order to avoid negative implications associated with evidence.

The term is pronounced SPO liation  – The first syllable rhymes with go and the second part is pronounced like the ending of pronunciation.

When some people are accused of wrongdoing, their first impulse is to attempt to destroy all evidence that they might have done something wrong.

PG warns this is a bad idea for a couple of reasons:

  1. It makes the person look very guilty of the claimed wrongdoing.
  2. The destruction or alteration can be a crime all by itself under federal law and state law in the United States separate and apart from the bad conduct spoliation attempts to cover up.

Some large organizations have detailed procedures to avoid having their employees intentionally or inadvertently alter or destroy potential evidence. Corporate legal departments have form spoliation letters and emails for use with employees, contractors, vendors, etc., etc.

Digital records have made the avoidance of spoliation far more complex. For someone with a guilty conscience, the temptation to hit the delete button is overwhelming.

Without getting into the weeds, PG cautions that delete commands often remove the file from an individual’s computer display without actually removing the underlying information from all sorts of other places where it may reside. Computer forensics experts are hired for their skill in locating deleted information in such places.

As the OP describes, social media and online discussion forums can be a happy hunting ground for evidence of guilt and inflammatory remarks that can make a defendant look like a jerk or a criminal. Yes, you can be forced to provide your ID and password.

PG suspects most attorneys warn their clients not to destroy or hide anything at the first hint of any potential claim or litigation.

UPDATE:

Here’s an example of a letter designed to prevent spoliation of evidence:

Please be advised that you and your clients, John Jones and Jane Doe, are under a legal duty to maintain, preserve, retain, protect, and not destroy any and all documents and data, both electronic and hard copy, that may be relevant to Ps claims as set forth in the Complaint. The failure to preserve and retain the electronic data and evidence outlined in this notice may constitute spoliation of evidence which will subject you to legal claims for damages and/or evidentiary and monetary sanctions.

For purposes of this notice, electronic data or electronic evidence shall include, but not be limited to, all text files (including word processing documents), presentation files ( such as PowerPoint), financial data, spread sheets, e-mail files and information concerning e-mail files (including logs of e-mail history and usage, header information, and deleted files), Internet history files and preferences, graphical files in any format, databases, calendar and scheduling information, task lists, voice mail, instant messaging and other electronic communications, telephone logs, contact managers, computer system activity logs, and all file fragments, internet usage files, offline storage or information stored on removable media or storage media, information contained on laptops, or other portable devices, network access information and backup files containing electronic data or electronic evidence.

Specifically, you are instructed not to destroy, disable, erase, encrypt, alter, or otherwise make unavailable any electronic data and/or evidence relevant to the Plaintiffs claims, and you are further instructed to take reasonable efforts to preserve such data and/or evidence. To meet this burden, you are instructed by way of example and not limitation, to:

  • Preserve all data storage backup files (i.e., not overwrite any previously existing backups);
  • Preserve and retain all electronic data generated or received by employees who may have personal knowledge of the facts involved in the claims against the Defendants as set forth in the Complaint;
  • Refrain from operating, removing or altering, fixed or external drives and media attached to any workstations or laptops, voice mail systems, and cell phones, copy machines that are reasonably thought to have data related to the claims, including but not limited to the workstations and/or laptops used by John Jones and Jane Doe;
  • Preserve and retain all data from servers and networking equipment logging network access activity and system authentication;
  • Preserve and retain all electronic data in any format, media, or location relating to the claims, including data on hard drives, hard disks, floppy disks, zip drives, CD-ROMs, CD-RWs, DVDs, backup tapes, PDAs, cell phones, smart phones, memory cards/sticks, or digital copiers or facsimile machines;
  • Prevent employees from deleting or overwriting any electronic data related to the Plaintiffs claims; and
  • Take such other security measures, including, but not limited to, restricting physical and electronic access to all electronically stored data directly or indirectly related to the Plaintiff s claims.

To facilitate the retrieval of said data, be advised that a forensic accounting firm will be retained to, in addition to reviewing the requisite documentation, forensically acquire the hard drives and other media that may contain electronic data related to the action.

Gutenberg, WordPress, & You: the What, the Why, and the How

7 August 2018

From The Digital Reader:

If you have a WordPress site, chances are you have heard of something called Gutenberg. You could have seen one of the posts written about it over the past 18 months (such as mine), or you may have seen the notice when you updated your WordPress site to v4.9.8.

Either way, if you are the average user you are probably wondering what Gutenberg is and how it will affect your site.

The following post is a short explainer that will delve into what Gutenberg is, why it matters, and how it will affect you.

. . . .

Gutenberg is a new official part of WordPress. It is currently in beta, and is scheduled to launch with the release of WordPress 5.0.

I have been following the development of Gutenberg for over a year, and in that time I have learned that the easiest way to explain what Gutenberg is to ask whether you are familiar with one of the mailing list services like Mailchimp or Mailerlite. Have you used one of their newsletter builders?

If you have used one then you will better understand Gutenberg when you see it for the first time.

Gutenberg replaces the existing post and page editor menu in WordPress with one that behaves more like Mailerlite’s newsletter builder. Where the existing editor resembled old word processor apps (think MS Word, circa 2002) and was designed on the concept of typing out paragraphs of text, the new Gutenberg editor is built on the idea of blocks.

It is not supposed to affect your existing content, but I cannot guarantee that will be true 100% of the time. (A WordPress site is just too complex to make that promise.) What I can say is that Gutenberg is intended to let you make new richer content, not force you go fix your existing content.

. . . .

Gutenberg, on the other hand, has a pop-up menu where you can select a block. You can open that menu by clicking the plus sign icon (see the screenshot above for an example) and then selecting one of the options.

Once you chose the next block, you can style it with settings that only apply to this one block, add content, etc. That custom styling is perhaps the biggest difference between Gutenberg and the existing content editor.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

PG is convinced that if he for some reason becam brain-dead, his fingers would still have sufficient intelligence to make blog posts via WordPress.

His brain may be intrigued by Gutenberg, but, before anything changes, PG’s fingers want a nice long vacation far away from all keyboards in a place where they can locate their inner child or some such thing.

The other thing that comes to PG’s mind when considering Gutenberg is how many WordPress themes it’s going to break. PG has one theme in particular on his mind.

TPV’s current theme is 25,000 years old in internet years. Some of the earlier posts are probably full of dinosaur tracks by now.

From time to time, PG has explored installing a new WP theme for TPV, but he can’t find one that will be a great-looking home for the blog out of the box. He has wasted a lot of time tweaking various themes, but nothing he’s developed has the same zing as the old, old, old look.


Incidentally, Nate, the proprietor of The Digital Reader, is also a WordPress whisperer in case your blog or your brain seizes up over Gutenberg.

Outnumbered: From Facebook and Google to Fake News and Filter-bubbles

1 August 2018

From The Guardian:

 Space is big,” wrote Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. “You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”

Adams’s assertion comes repeatedly to mind when reading David Sumpter’s Outnumbered, which attempts to reckon with the sheer scale of the systems that manage much of our digital lives. It’s easy, when faced with the numbers at hand, to succumb to a kind of vertigo: Facebook has two billion users, who make tens of millions of posts every hour. From this data, along with millions more photos, likes and relationships, Facebook builds models of all of us that extend in hundreds of dimensions – the puny human mind, at best, is capable of visualising four.

Google’s translation systems likewise collapse hundreds of languages into multidimensional matrices of meaning, which generate their own metalanguages unknowable to us – and which contain their own implicit biases. Plugging the UK’s most popular baby names into one such system, designed to understand how words and concepts relate to each other, gives the response: “Oliver is to clever what Olivia is to flirtatious”. “Our future generations’ gender roles,” the author worries, “have already been assigned by the algorithm.”

Sumpter is a professor of applied mathematics; his natural response to such problems is to recreate them and then unpack them – and perhaps deflate some of our wilder fears along the way. Step by step, using the same data as many of the papers he quotes from, he details the maths that underpins each of these systems, laying out the straightforward, if advanced, calculations that govern their outcomes – and their limitations. It’s all very well to apply sophisticated regression models to billions of Facebook likes, but the results are mostly underwhelming: yes, “Democrats are more likely to like Harry Potter” than Republicans, but “it doesn’t necessarily tell us that other Harry Potter fans like the Democrats”. The same no-nonsense approach is deployed to debunk lazy assertions that we are all fooled by fake news stories, or trapped within filter bubbles that mindlessly reassert our prejudices. We are, apparently, both smarter and more aware than that.

. . . .

In example after example, the toxic combination of filter bubbles, simplistic ranking mechanisms and algorithmic recommendation is seen as clearly in elite networks as in more accessible but supposedly less self-aware groups – but, we are told, the effects really aren’t as bad as we’re being told they are: “When we get time for research, we scientists still do it well. Most scientists I meet are motivated by the eternal search for truth and the desire to know the right answer.” Phew.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

From The Jakarta Post:

At a time when society is becoming more and more reliant on technology and the internet, there is widespread concern they are exerting too much influence over our lives.

Behind it all are algorithms that have the capability to predict our everyday lives, and to be frank, we’re not entirely sure what they are up to.

In Outnumbered: From Facebook and Google to fake news and filter-bubbles – the algorithms that control our lives (featuring Cambridge Analytica), author David Sumpter writes about society’s ever growing concerns about technology, as well as how algorithms work and their capability to run our lives. It is a fascinating read, drawing on real life phenomenon and stories, such as the likes of Cambridge Analytica.

Simply put, Sumpter tells readers that artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms are more than what meets the eye.

When it comes to technology and the internet, many see it as an open field, accessible to many and a place where we can freely move around. We easily surf the web, clicking on websites, constantly using search engines to keep up with our daily lives. We don’t really put much thought into what happens after we make a single click, but we are now more aware and sensitive of what happens to our data.

That being said, the internet holds a massive digital archive of our opinions, gathered from the algorithms that lie beneath it. These opinions are then analyzed to become a mold of our preference and interests and manipulated to influence us. So we ask each other why. Why are these data researchers and tech giants collecting our data? And how are they using it? What is it about our data that interests them so much?

In this book, Sumpter investigates and explains it all. A professor of applied mathematics at the University of Uppsala in Sweden, Sumpter pitches to his readers a model that illustrates how these algorithms work, from how they analyze us, influence us and become us, and what we should and should not worry about.

. . . .

Sumpter explains all his findings through fascinating examples and case studies, such as how mathematicians applied mathematics in an effort to locate Banksy, an anonymous street artist, or how Google’s neural network had the capability to play Space Invaders against a human being, as well as how companies secretly used our data for political use and that one algorithm that analyzes how the number of “likes” and “dislikes” on platforms such as YouTube correlate with popularity. The list goes on and it is mind blowing.

Link to the rest at The Jakarta Post

From Publishers Weekly:

At a time of widespread concern about technology exerting too much influence over people’s lives, mathematics professor Sumpter (Soccermatics) devotes this enlightening book to investigating these fears and explaining clearly what algorithms do. He tackles different examples of their appearance in daily life, starting with in-the-news attempts to use the internet to study and influence voters. He discusses data harvested from Facebook users regarding their preferences in politics and other areas (theoretically, Democrats “could focus on getting the vote out among Harry Potter fans”), observing that, thankfully, the data’s accuracy is limited by the algorithim designers’ own inherent biases. As to the fake news disseminated on Facebook and other content aggregators, Sumpter believes that, for most people, it has little real impact.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

From Kirkus Review:

Further frighteningly convincing research about the data infiltrating our lives.

Experts regularly warn us that today’s digital technology can extract our innermost secrets. In this ingenious addition to the genre, Sumpter (Applied Mathematics/Univ. of Uppsala, Sweden; Soccermatics: Mathematical Adventures in the Beautiful Game, 2016, etc.) agrees that there is some truth in this assessment but also serious limitations. The book, less a polemic than a combination of investigative journalism and (mostly) painless mathematical lessons, explains how social media, search engines, and merchants extract our opinions and manipulate them with a set of rules called an algorithm, which can often reveal our tastes, personality, and politics. Readers comfortable with ads tailored to previous purchases may flinch to learn that every mouse click such as a “like” under a photo, joke, or film clip enters a massive digital archive that reveals an unnervingly accurate portrait of the clicker. “Unlike our friends—who tend to forget the details and are forgiving in the conclusions they draw about us—Facebook is systematically collecting, processing and analyzing our emotional state,” writes the author. “It is rotating our personalities in hundreds of dimensions, so it can find the most cold, rational direction to view us from.” Persuading us to buy stuff seems benign, but the internet also teems with fake news scientifically designed to influence our votes. Sumpter returns repeatedly to the surprise victories of Donald Trump and Brexit. Wielding his mathematical tools, the author explains how algorithms deal with big data, and it turns out there is less there than meets the eye. Polls only calculate the odds of an event; they can’t “predict” anything. True believers lap up fake news, but it has a barely detectable effect on changing the average reader’s mind.

Link to the rest at Kirkus Review

From Psychologist World:

A subliminal message is a signal or message designed to pass below (sub) the normal limits of perception. For example it might be inaudible to the conscious mind (but audible to the unconscious or deeper mind) or might be an image transmitted briefly and unperceived consciously and yet perceived unconsciously. This definition assumes a division between conscious and unconscious which may be misleading; it may be more true to suggest that the subliminal message (sound or image) is perceived by deeper parts of what is a single integrated mind.

In the everyday world, it has often been suggested that subliminal techniques are used in advertising and for propaganda purposes (e.g. party political broadcasts).

The term subliminal message was popularized in a 1957 book entitled The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard. This book detailed a study of movie theaters that supposedly used subliminal commands to increase the sales of popcorn and Coca-Cola at their concession stands. However, the study was fabricated, as the author of the study James Vicary later admitted.

In 1973 the book Subliminal Seduction claimed that subliminal techiques were in wide use in advertising. The book contributed to a general climate of fear with regard to Orwellian dangers (of subliminal messaging). Public concern was enough to lead the Federal Communications Commission to hold hearings and to declare subliminal advertising “contrary to the public interest” because it involved “intentional deception” of the public.

Subliminal perception or cognition is a subset of unconscious cognition where the forms of unconscious cognition also include attending to one signal in a noisy environment while unconsciously keeping track of other signals (e.g one voice out of many in a crowded room) and tasks done automatically (e.g. driving a car).

In all such cases there has been research into how much of the unattended or unconscious signal or message is perceived (unconsciously), i.e is the whole message sensed and fully digested or perhaps only its main and simpler features? There are at least two schools of thought about this. One of them argues that only the simpler features of unconscious signals are perceived; however please note that the majority of the research done has tended to test only for simpler features of cognition (rather than testing for complete comprehension). The second school of thought argues that the unconscious cognition is comprehensive and that much more is perceived than can be verbalized.

. . . .

Subliminal messages might gain their potential influence/power from the fact that they may be able to cirumvent the critical functions of the conscious mind, and it has often been argued that subliminal suggestions are therefore potentially more powerful than ordinary suggestions. This route to influence or persuasion would be akin to auto-suggestion or hypnosis wherein the subject is encouraged to be (or somehow induced to be) relaxed so that suggestions are directed to deeper (more gullible) parts of the mind; some observers have argued that the unconscious mind is incapable of critical refusal of hypnotic or subliminal suggestions. Research findings do not support the conclusion that subliminal suggestions are peculiarly powerful.

. . . .

A form of subliminal messaging commonly believed to exist involves the insertion of “hidden” messages into movies and TV programs. The concept of “moving pictures” relies on persistence of vision to create the illusion of movement in a series of images projected at 23 to 30 frames per second; the popular theory of subliminal messages usually suggests that subliminal commands can be inserted into this sequence at the rate of perhaps 1 frame in 25 (or roughly 1 frame per second). The hidden command in a single frame will flash across the screen so quickly that it is not consciously perceived, but the command will supposedly appeal to the subconscious mind of the viewer, and thus have some measurable effect in terms of behavior.

As to the question of whether subliminal messages are widely used to influence groups of people e.g. audiences, there is no evidence to suggest that any serious or sustained attempt has been made to use the technology on a mass audience. The widely-reported reports that arose in 1957 to the effect that customers in a movie theatre in New Jersey had been induced by subliminal messages to consume more popcorn and more Coca-Cola were almost certainly false. The current consensus among marketing professionals is that subliminal advertising is counter-productive. To some this is because they believe it to be ineffective, but to most it is because they realise it would be a public relations disaster if its use was discovered. Many have misgivings about using it in marketing campaigns due to ethical considerations.

Link to the rest at Psychologist World

PG has linked to several reviews of a new book, Outnumbered: From Facebook and Google to Fake News and Filter-bubbles – The Algorithms That Control Our Lives (featuring Cambridge Analytica) and one short item discussing subliminal messaging because each of the reviews reflects, to varying extents, the idea that masses citizens in free and open societies can be manipulated like pawns on a chessboard by some surreptitious, super-intelligent and powerful group of people for nefarious ends.

Vance Packard’s bestselling book, The Hidden Persuaders, had a huge impact on advertisers and advertising agencies (and politicians as well) in the late 1950’s and 1960’s. For obvious reasons, the idea that a properly-constructed subliminal message could have a substantial effect on consumer behavior was very attractive.

The problem with Packard’s theories is that they didn’t seem to work with consumers. The traditional marketing approach of understanding what consumers wanted and needed (not necessarily the same thing) and creating products and messages that addressed those wants and needs wasn’t enhanced in any measurable way by hidden messages that were not clear and obvious. Handsome men and attractive women were depicted enjoying a product in commercials to catch a viewer’s attention and encourage them to buy a product. Pitching the psychic benefits of a product was not particularly subtle and certainly didn’t pass a secret and influential message below the level of consciousness.

In PG’s observation, large groups of people tend to denigrate those who disagree with them on a subject of some importance as uninformed or stupid. The belief that people make choices or cast votes against their own logical self-interest is widespread among those who believe themselves to be more intelligent or better-informed than those who disagree with them.

PG suggests that the belief that large groups of people are too ignorant or ill-informed to make proper decisions for themselves is a step towards political disaster. One feature of dictatorships is a constant stream of advertising messages about how intelligent, insightful and beneficent the great leader and those who surround him are and how important it is for everyone else to leave important decisions in the leader’s hands.

 

5 Old School Social Media Tactics That Are No Longer Effective (And What To Do Instead)

30 July 2018

From Buffer Social:

5. Asking people to share your content

You’ve worked hard to create an awesome piece of content—and naturally, you want as many people to see it as possible. So, along with sharing the link on social media, you ask your contacts to post it on their own networks.

The problem? This request puts your connections in a really awkward spot. Saying no feels pretty uncomfortable (after all, you’re asking for a share, not a kidney), but they might want to for any number of reasons: the content doesn’t work with their brand, audience, or social strategy; they don’t agree with everything it says; or they simply resent being asked.

In the end, this strategy might help you get more views on, say, a blog post or Slideshare—but your professional relationships will take a hit. (Want to brush up on social media etiquette? Check out the 29 most common rules and which ones you should actually follow.)

What to do instead:

You want people to link to your content because, well, they want to. With that in mind, focus on making it as shareable as possible.

recent analysis of 65,000 articles found that a piece’s virality comes down to two main factors: arousal and dominance. In plain English, arousal means “riled up.” Both anger and excitement are high-arousal emotions. Dominance, on the other hand, is the feeling of being in control. When you’re inspired or joyful, you’re experiencing high dominance; when you’re scared, you’re experiencing low dominance.

Articles that perform the best on social use a high-arousal, high-dominance combo. What would that look like? Well, a photo of Vin Diesel with his daughter racked up 8.1 million interactions (making it the fifth most popular Facebook post of 2015), thanks to the strong, positive emotions it generated. But strong, negative emotions can be powerful too—take the Dove “Choose Beautiful” campaign, which put a spotlight on low self-esteem.

Link to the rest at Buffer Social

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