Some people love to get birthday messages on Facebook.
Heck, the first year I was on I couldn’t figure out why no one wished me a happy birthday when my turn came. I realized I had the setting turned off (knowing a lot about reputation management can have its drawbacks).
And some people don’t.
If you’d like to keep your big day to yourself, here’s how to make sure all 900 of your friends aren’t notified, prompted to write on your wall, or purchase a Facebook Gift.
- Navigate to your profile
- Click Update Info (as of May 2013). It may get changed, so look for any kind of “Edit”.
- Click Edit next to Basic Information
- Click on the audience button next to your birthday
- Choose Only Me
There’s one more drop down that allows you to choose whether it can be seen on your profile at all. The options are: show my full birthday on my timeline, show only month and day on my timeline, and don’t show my birthday on my timeline.
Not showing your birthday to the entire world is a good preventative measure to take against identity theft (dang! I’ve shown you mine). Now that we can piece together more and more about each other based on the sheer volume available about us online, be safe where you can.
Did you know that much of the traffic to your website comes through your blog? It’s true. Business blogging is a necessity to attract visitors. You are probably thinking, “I don’t know what to write about.” I wrote a blog about good writing subjects called “15 Easy Blog Post Topics” and it’s one of my most popular (the subject matter never gets old). But I’m going to run you through the exercise I do with my clients that will map out for you what you’ll be writing about for the next year.
- Make sure you have 30 minutes to 1 hour of uninterrupted time. I promise that you won’t need that long but you need your brain to relax into this exercise.
- Print out 15 Easy Blog Post Topics, have it nearby, or open it in another browser window so you can refer to it.
- Start with a blank piece of paper, in document software such as Word, or in Excel. On the left hand side of the page, write the months May 2013 through April 2014 (I say this because I’m writing this blog in April 2013, adjust accordingly). See my Sample Editorial Calendar for an example that you can download.
- We are going to write a topic, subject, theme, or title (use any word that works for you) for each month for the next twelve. The reason I’m telling you to start next month is because I don’t want you to feel stressed about writing immediately. You need to have time to think about what you are going to write before it’s due.
- Here are some examples: I just got a great testimonial from a client. I’ll write “Testimonial from John Q. Public” on any of the months (don’t worry about what subject goes where yet) or I could write “History of my company” (why I do what I do). It’s a creative writing process, just keep writing subjects.
- When you’re done with the twelve subjects, take a look at their placement on the calendar. I like to do easy ones like the seasonally appropriate, “It’s January! What are your marketing or social media goals for the upcoming year?” or holiday specific because those belong on the calendar in predictable places. Then adjust the rest of your content to make sense, whether it’s sequential or if it’s specific to your business seasons. Tax accountants are aware of what people need to do to prep for taxes and that content is necessary to publish January-March. Wedding professionals are giving tips to their brides and grooms nine months before their weddings and their high season is June-August.
- Now visit your appointment calendar. Think about whether you write better in the morning, mid-day, or evening. What day of the week is the quietest in your office? Set an appointment on your calendar to write. Writing a blog can take 1-2 hours for writing, editing, research, photo placement, search engine optimization, and social media sharing. After a couple months, you will have to evaluate your success or lack thereof. If you find you don’t write, ask yourself why? Have you not scheduled it? Are you placing it on the wrong day or time? Ask yourself probing questions and you will get the answers. If you are sticking to your plan and things are going well, you can increase your output to twice per month then once a week. It’s rare that people are able to blog multiple times per week unless it’s their only job. This step is about setting up your expectations for realistic goals.
- BONUS STEP: You can do this now or when you are ready to write. Use Google’s AdWords: Keyword Tool to ascertain which words you will be putting in your blog are highly trafficked (hard to stand out in a crowded room) or those that have very little competition. I HIGHLY recommend you watch this short video that not only teaches you how to use it and what the terms mean. Remember, your visitors come to your site/blog based on the keywords you use!
You are all setup to write! Writing down and assigning those twelve subjects usually takes about 15 minutes. How did you do?
I feel like they pulled the rug out from underneath all of their users. There’s no way to opt out of this new wrinkle other than deleting your account. If you do so before Jan. 16, your images are safe from the new terms. While they say they don’t own user uploaded content, users “hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service.”
It used to be that advertisers would have to ask explicit permission to use content, that is no longer the case. Your face or images could end up on a billboard or on a Facebook ad. You have no control over that and will receive no compensation or credit.
Did I mention that minors are not exempt?!? By signing up to use the service, they are acknowledging that a parent has agreed to let them use Instagram and that their content may be used for advertising purposes. Because you know that teens ask their parents before downloading and using an app. Secondly, I will bet that neither teens nor parents will really understand the impact of this change.
I want to know why they can change their rules mid stream? I will hear back from lawyer friend later today but I know she’s not going to have anything to say that will make me happy.
My view is that everything you say, do, and post is public information. But I really don’t like the games they are playing with people that don’t understand their legal rights and when they are being ruthlessly taken away. I’ve never been a privacy advocate but this one takes the cake. The fact that minors are being taken advantage of is the part that really gets me worked up.
If you want to be exempt from this, delete your account. If you keep it, know that pictures of you or your children are fair game.
So shortly after I wrote this blog, Instagram backpedaled.
“Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.”
When I spoke to a lawyer about it, I expressed that what I think is a major concern for users is that while it is a public platform, no one wants to feel like a product. Offering your content for free is one thing but if Instagram were to try to make a profit off of their user’s images, it would upset many of them. This is what I think Instragram feels the need to clear up.
Recently several people have asked me about Spokeo, an aggregate website that lists personal information already available on the web, yet I hadn’t seen it for myself until the last report I worked up. When I encountered it while doing a reputation management report for a client (online brand and personal name search, findings, and includes how to build up great brand content or eliminate that which is incorrect or undesirable), I dropped what I was doing, applied this to myself to learn how it worked, and how to teach you to remove your information.
Navigate to www.spokeo.com and enter your name. You may find that you have several listings. This information comes from public records such as utility bills, phone listings, and more. Investigate each listing that may possibly be you. You will see information such as gender, age, phone number, street address, and a photo of your neighborhood. In order to see the full results, they will charge you. Don’t pay! You can simply remove yourself. (You can read more about privacy rights on the web at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse or about the $80,000 fine levied against Spokeo by the FTC.)
- Copy the listing URL out of the address bar and then navigate to www.spokeo.com/privacy
- Scroll down until you see “Removing Your Listing from Spokeo”
- Paste the URL into the Profile URL box and in the next box put an email address where you’ll be receiving a confirmation link
- Enter in the Captcha phrase and Remove This Listing
- You should receive an email almost instantly that has a link saying “To complete the removal process, please click here.” It works instantly.
- Now keep looking yourself up and repeating this process until they are all eliminated.* I did it for myself and got rid of three listings in less than 5 minutes. Now do it for your spouse and kids.
*When I repeated this process to make sure I got all my steps right for my blog, I used my husband’s information. Spokeo only allowed me to do 2 before it throttled me by saying “In order to prevent abuse, we must limit the frequency of automated privacy requests.” Don’t let them stop you! Go back in an hour or tomorrow but eliminate all information that you can! Yes you can pay an outside service to do this for you but it’s much more expensive and time consuming than you’d like to believe.
Other services with a similar information and process:
- ZoomInfo to opt out use www.ZoomInfo.com/privacy
- 411.info, to opt out use www.411.info/privacy
- White Pages, to opt out use http://www.whitepagescustomers.com/get-help-with-a-personal-listing/
Other aggregator sites like Spokeo: