Category Archives: Social Media

How to turn off autoplay videos on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and more

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Turn off this annoying and potentially harmful feature

By Cameron Faulkner, Writer, The Verge  @camfaulkner  Mar 15, 2019  3:39pm EDT

 

You’ve probably been caught off guard by videos that play automatically on Facebook, Twitter, and other services; in fact, just across the internet in general. They begin playing as soon as you load a page or (if they’re more deviously implemented) when you start scrolling through a page to catch your attention.

Automatic video play is a feature that, while nice to have when it’s surfacing content that’s related to your interests, can be pretty annoying. Autoplay videos can be harmful, too, exposing you to violent, offensive, or otherwise unwanted content that you shouldn’t have to see by default. Several browsers, like Google Chrome and Firefox, now have built-in measures to curb autoplay videos, but for the most part, turning them off is still a very manual process.

Whether you just want to put an end to autoplay videos on social media platforms, or are looking for a more comprehensive fix, we’ve got some tips. Keep in mind that you’ll need to adjust these settings for every device that you use, since your preferences on, say, your phone do not automatically push to your PC.

 

Illustration by James Bareham / The Verge

How to turn off autoplay videos on Facebook

If you’re using Facebook on your browser, you can turn off autoplay videos by navigating to the Settings menu found within the drop-down menu at the top right of the page. Look for the Videos listing on the left-hand menu. Inside of that option is a toggle where you can turn off autoplaying videos.

Facebook has similar options available for its iOS and Android apps, but it’s much harder to find than on a browser.

If you use an iPhone or iPad

  • Click the menu button on the bottom of your screen.
  • Once you’re there, tap “Settings & Privacy,” then “Settings.”
  • From there, scroll down until you find “Media and Contacts,” then tap “Videos and Photos.”
  • Finally, once you find “Autoplay,” you can turn off the feature.

If you use an Android phone or tablet

  • Click the menu button at the top right of your screen.
  • Once you’re there, scroll down and tap “Settings & Privacy,” then “Settings.”
  • From there, scroll down until you find “Media and Contacts.”
  • Finally, once you find “Autoplay,” you can set it to “Never Autoplay Videos.”

 

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

How to turn off autoplay videos on Twitter

The steps to turn off autoplay videos on your browser differ if you’ve opted in for the newer design.

If you opted in for the new design

  • Click on your profile name, and “Settings and privacy” will be nested within the menu.
  • Once you’ve been taken to the settings menu, look for “Data usage” on the side panel.
  • Click on the “Video autoplay” setting. You can then switch off the autoplaying of videos on your feed.

If you haven’t opted in for the updated look

  • Click on your profile name, and “Settings and privacy” will be nested within the menu.
  • Once you’ve been taken to the settings menu, look for “Account” on the side panel.
  • Under the “Content” heading, you’ll be able to unclick “Video Autoplay.”

iOS and Android apps

The process involves a similar amount of steps on the iOS and Android apps.

  • Click the profile picture at the top of your phone screen.
  • Select “Settings and privacy” in the menu.
  • Navigate to “Data usage.” Under the “Video” section, set the “Video autoplay” option to “never.”

How to turn off autoplay videos on Instagram

The Instagram app doesn’t allow for autoplay videos to be turned off, so you’ll have to tread carefully here. Videos don’t autoplay if you use Instagram on your browser, but since almost all of the service’s users are using it on mobile devices, there’s currently no way around it.

 

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

How to turn off autoplay videos on Reddit

Reddit, like most sites that host video, autoplays videos by default. However it’s pretty easy to turn it off.

If you use the newer design

  • Click your username in the upper-right corner and select “User settings” in the menu.
  • Select “Feed settings.” Within the list that is presented, toggle off the “Autoplay media” switch.

If you’re still using the legacy version of Reddit

  • Click “Preferences” next to your username in the top right of the window.
  • Under “Media,” look for “Autoplay Reddit videos on the desktop comments page.” Uncheck the box.
  • You’ll need to hit “save options” at the bottom of the screen to put the changes through.

On the mobile app, tap the icon next to the search bar, then hit “Settings.” Once you’re here, you’ll see “Autoplay” near the top of the page, and you can easily choose to turn it off.

 

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

How to turn off autoplay videos on Chrome or Firefox

If you use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, recent updates have allowed (or will soon allow) you to disable videos from playing automatically, though there are some caveats.

For Chrome users, ensure that you have at least version 66 (version 73 is the latest stable release at the time of publication). There’s no toggle to make sure that videos don’t play automatically, but instead Google should remember your preferences based on your activity, as well as that of other visitors to the site. It’s by no means a perfect solution to the problem, but here’s how it currently works, according to this article from Tom Warren:

If you’ve just started using Chrome and have no browsing history, the browser will autoplay videos on more than 1,000 popular sites where visitors typically play sound on videos. “As you browse the web, that list changes as Chrome learns and enables autoplay on sites where you play media with sound during most of your visits, and disables it on sites where you don’t,” explains Google product manager John Pallett. “As you teach Chrome, you may find that you need to click ‘play’ every now and then, but overall the new policy blocks about half of unwanted autoplays, so you will have fewer surprises and less unwanted noise when you first arrive at a website.”

Chrome may not have a switch that turns off all autoplay videos, but you can manually turn off sound, images, and other settings on a per-site basis to achieve something that’s close enough.

  • Click the lock next to the web address bar, then hit “Site Settings” in the drop-down menu.
  • Once you’re here, you can adjust each setting to “Block.” If you’re specifically targeting autoplaying videos, turning off Javascript is the way to do it, but beware, it will probably break a lot of other site functionality in the process.

As of March 19th, 2019, Mozilla Firefox will have publicly rolled out its update (version 66) that mutes autoplaying videos. Compared to Chrome’s approach, Firefox is taking a harder stance on autoplay videos by muting them all, unless, as Chaim Gartenberg wrote, “explicitly allowed by a user. Users will also be able to manually allow sites to autoplay, allowing sites like YouTube (where most people tend to want the video they’ve selected to automatically play upon loading) to continue to work as normal.”

Unfortunately, this means that you still may see something that you wish you hadn’t seen on Firefox, but it’s a step in the right direction toward eliminating autoplay videos altogether.

When Digital Transformation Does Not Happen: Big Box Retailers That Closed Their Doors In 2018


DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images Getty

Jan 22, 2019  02:42pm

By Blake Morgan, Contributor – CMO Network (Forbes), Customer Experience Futurist, Author, Keynote Speaker

 

When it comes to retail, the only constant is change. Today news broke that Starbucks will be trying delivery to customers, as the in-store experience has lost some traffic. As you will find out below, not everything that Starbucks touches turns to gold, such as Teavana. Those who compete on customer experience today are doing so by competing on logistics. A digital transformation that includes logistics and supply chain prove to be the power of companies that remain relevant to customers. Target is an example of a company that struggled to get a hold on the digital aspect of its business, and outsourced its digital side and website to Amazon from 2003 – 2011. They saw digital as ancillary but eventually woke up. They focused on supply chain combining digital and in-store inventories enabling them to get customer’s their orders faster. Target became a company that used technology to improve its supply chain and offer curbside pick-up for customers. Not to mention the success of its many Target-only brands. Target has triumphed seeing a twenty nine percent growth in online sales in 2018 and a growth in retail sales as well (almost six percent). But for those who refuse to go through a digital transformation fast enough, the risk is real.

In 2018 when some iconic retailers shuttered their doors by either completely going out of business or closing a portion of their stores. Retail is incredibly competitive, and specialty stores or brands that can’t innovate and compete often fall by the wayside. Thanks to Amazon and an explosion of direct to consumer companies like Casper, Dollar Shave Club and Away, more big box retailers are closing their doors.

Here are the top 9 biggest retail closures of 2018:

1. Toys R Us

Iconic toy store Toys R Us closed the doors of all of its 735 stores in June after months of liquidation sales. It marked the end of an era for brick-and-mortar shopping in standalone toy stores. Even with a loyal customer base and strong rewards program, Toys R Us had problems keeping up with online toy retailers and big box stores.

2. Sears Holdings

Sears has been battling to survive since it filed for bankruptcy in October. As a result, the company is restructuring and focusing on a smaller core of profitable stores. Sears Holdings announced in late 2018 that it will close more than 140 Sears and Kmart stores. Sears used to be a prominent retail store, but both Sears and Kmart have faced difficulties in recent years with increased competition and the growth of e-commerce. When given the choice to shop more modern brands online or go to an older Kmart store, customers are choosing the former.

3. Lowe’s

Home improvement store Lowe’s closed 51 stores across the U.S. and Canada. Nearly half of the under-performing stores are within 10 miles of another Lowe’s store, which has allowed employees to transfer to new locations. Closing less profitable stores will allow the company to focus on stores with big earnings.

4. Mattress Firm

Also on the list of retailers that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy is Mattress Firm. As a result, the company closed 700 of its more than 3,300 stores. Stores closed quickly after the announcement, some within a few days and others within a few weeks. Most of the stores that closed were in markets that already had numerous other Mattress Firm locations. In recent years, many customers have moved to ordering mattresses online.

5. Brookstone

Mall and airport staple Brookstone filed for bankruptcy in August after a long period of slumping sales. Brookstone closed or is in the process of closing all 102 of its mall stores. However, it is adding 35 new stores in airports to help meet revenue goals. Airport stores tend to be smaller but gain lots of traffic from tired travelers wanting to test the famous massage chairs. Brookstone’s mall locations simply couldn’t compete with online retailers, and most consumers found it easier and more enjoyable to find their quirky gadgets online.

6. GNC

Vitamin store GNC closed 200 stores across the U.S. and Canada after slumping sales. The company said it was trying to renegotiate leases to lower the number of stores it closed, but that didn’t turn out. There are still more than 9,000 GNC stores around the world, but more locations could close if the company can’t turn things around. With its specialty products, GNC is in competition with other vitamin retailers and online stores.

7. Foot Locker

A fixture of many malls, Foot Locker closed 110 stores in 2018, mostly in malls that the company said were “starting to deteriorate.” As it closed underperforming stores, Foot Locker starting putting a bigger emphasis online. However, brick and mortar isn’t completely dead for Foot Locker: it also opened 40 new stores in 2018, including a Champs Sports flagship store in Times Square.

8. Teavana

Starbucks shut the door on its retail tea chain, Teavana. Most of the stores hadn’t been performing well, and Starbucks wanted to move the company in a different direction. In recent years Starbucks tried to spice things up with improved store designs and creative packaging, but it wasn’t enough. All 379 Teavana stores closed in 2018.

9. Claire’s

Home to tween girl accessories, Claire’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2018 and announced it was closing more than 90 stores. It’s the perfect storm for Claire’s: aging customers, dying malls with slowing foot traffic and a move to online shopping. The store has also faced more competition from big box chains like Target and Walmart.

Nothing in retail is ever certain, especially as e-commerce continues to boom. Stores need to find ways to adapt or they might follow in the doomed footsteps of these retail stores.

Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, futurist and author of “More Is More.” Sign up for her weekly customer experience newsletter here

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Note: The following link is not part of this article from Blake Morgan, but provides further details on additional bankruptcies experienced from 2015 through early 2019. It is quite extensive, but a very good review (Infographic with commentary) of the “Retail Apocalypse” and the impact of big-box retailers falling behind the technology curve and not shifting to e-commerce and establishing an online presence early enough:  Here’s A List Of 68 Bankruptcies In The Retail Apocalypse And Why They Failed from CBInsights (March 12, 2019).

Better Recruiting Through Social Media

Don’t just mess around on Twitter. You need a plan in place to get solid results.

Social Joy Duce, Partner-in-Charge, Human Resources Consulting Services at Sikich | Feb 14, 2019

 

Social media has become a near-constant feature in almost every American’s life, and for that reason it must also be major component in any successful talent acquisition strategy. Today, 69% of American adults use at least one social media site, according to Pew Research.

Manufacturers, meanwhile, are engaged in a no-holds-barred war for talent. Part of the problem is that they don’t know how to reach job candidates effectively anymore.

As a hiring tool, social media allows manufacturers to reach large numbers of prospective employees at relatively low cost. But leadership often underestimates the resources and planning required to execute an effective social media plan.

Fortunately, there are strategies manufacturers can deploy to establish a powerful social media presence that enhances recruitment efforts.

Find the Right People for the Job

Many manufacturing company leaders make a crucial early mistake by tasking their human resources teams to manage their companies’ social media pages. This can pose two major challenges:

1. HR professionals—while typically excellent at assessing candidates, improving company culture and ensuring compliance—often lack expertise in social media. Without the right people handling social media, companies can send mixed messages to the marketplace or even make mistakes that harm their brands.

2. The 24/7 nature of social media requires companies to provide nearly instantaneous responses to inquiries. Manufacturers that fail to respond quickly to a potential applicant can lose out to competitors that are immediately engaging with prospective talent online.

Consider recruiting skilled communicators from other departments to the social media effort. In some cases, it might be a good idea to form a larger committee of employees who can work together to plan and execute social media content. Human resources staff can certainly contribute to the effort, but they should not be the sole contributors to a manufacturer’s social media operations.

Play by the Rules

Often, companies extend their social efforts into applicant screening processes. In fact, according to CareerBuilder, 70% of employers will search applicants on platforms including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter before hiring.

But using social media as a screening tool often provides more details than a company needs to make its hiring decisions—such as religious affiliation, political views or sexual orientation. If a company makes a decision based on personal information that it mined from social media, it could quickly become vulnerable to a discrimination lawsuit.

To avoid this scenario, a manufacturer should create a written social media policy that outlines employee usage guidelines as well as HR screening guidelines that discourage problematic hiring practices. This policy should clearly prohibit hiring decisions based on personal information and beliefs that are irrelevant to the open position. It should also clearly detail the factors that are relevant when considering an individual for employment, such as professional qualifications and credentials, work experience, and facts gathered during the interview itself.

Start Planning Today

Manufacturers who are new to social media will want to start with a very targeted social media strategy, involving only one or two channels. The channels that they select should depend on the positions they seek to fill. LinkedIn may be a good place to reach management personnel, but it won’t be the best option when searching for entry-level plant workers, who are more likely on Instagram, Craigslist or Facebook.

No matter which social media channels they choose to use, manufacturers can’t afford to ignore Glassdoor, an online platform that features employee reviews of companies. Many applicants rely on Glassdoor for the “inside scoop” about a company. Though an employer can’t control the reviews current and former employees post on the site, it can actively manage its Glassdoor page and ensure the page features valuable information about company benefits and culture.

Once a manufacturer has developed a social media strategy that aligns with the company’s global mission, vision and values and puts it into action, the next step is to monitor results and continually tweak and refine the strategy as the company’s needs evolve.

Nobody is going to create the perfect social media plan on the first attempt. It takes time to master online activity and optimize messaging. As the social media team gains capacity, manufacturers can consider adding new channels to the mix to reach new talent.

The manufacturers that invest the time and effort to develop a robust social media strategy will put themselves in a position to recruit the best and brightest employees – and come out on top in the war for talent.

About the author

Joy Duce is partner-in-charge of the human resources consulting services practice at professional services firm Sikich.

 

A Practical Guide to Protecting Your Privacy Online

 

 

 

By John Mason, Founder and Chief Researcher of TheBestVPN and Contributor to TechNewsWorld
Feb 1, 2019  8:47AM PT
(This story was originally published on Nov. 7, 2018, and is brought to you today as part of our Best of ECT News series)

 

Do you take your online privacy seriously?

Most people don’t. They have an ideal scenario of just how private their online activities should be, but they rarely do anything to actually achieve it.

The problem is that bad actors know and rely on this fact, and that’s why there’s been a steady rise in identity theft cases from 2013 to 2017. The victims of these cases often suffer a loss of reputation or financial woes.

If you take your online privacy seriously, follow this 10-step guide to protect it.

1. Shield Yourself From Snoopy ISPs

You may not be aware of it, but your ISP already might know all about your online searches.

Each time you search for something online, your browser sends a query to a DNS server. Before the query reaches a DNS server, however, it first has to go through your ISP. Needless to say, your ISP easily can read and monitor these queries, which gives it a window into your online activity.

Not all ISPs monitor your browser queries but the ones that don’t are the exception and not the rule. Most ISPs will keep records of your Web browsing for a period of a few months to a year. Most ISPs don’t record your texts, but they do keep records of who texted you.

There are two ways to protect your privacy if you don’t want your ISP monitoring your browser queries: 1) Switch to an ISP that doesn’t monitor your online data, if practicable; or 2) Get a VPN to protect your data (more on this later).

2. Guard Your Login Credentials

One thing most people take for granted is the login credentials they use to access their many online accounts. Your username and password are the only things keeping your information and privileges from getting into the wrong hands. This is why it’s important to make them as strong as possible.

Choose a strong username that is simple and easy to remember but can’t easily be linked to your identity. This is to prevent hackers from correctly guessing your username based on your name, age, or date of birth. You’d be surprised just how cunningly hackers can find this information. Also, never use your Social Security Number as your username.

Next, pick a strong password. There are many ways to do this, but we can narrow them down to two options: 1) Learn how to make strong passwords; or 2) Use a password manager app.

Learning how to make a strong password requires time and imagination. Do you want to know what the most common passwords are? They are “1234,” “12345,” “0000,” “password” and “qwerty” — no imagination at all. A password combining your name and date of birth won’t cut it. Nor will a password that uses any word found in the dictionary.

You need to use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and even symbols (if allowed). Complexity is what matters, not length, since a complex password will take centuries for a computer to figure out. In fact, you can try your password if you want to see just how long it will take to crack.

If you don’t have the time and imagination to formulate a strong and complex password, you can use one of the six best password managers. These apps not only save you the hassle of memorizing your complex passwords but also auto-fill online login forms and formulate strong passwords for you.

Whether you want to learn how to make strong passwords or choose to install a password manager app is up to you. What you should never neglect, though, is 2FA (2-factor authentication). 2FA adds an extra layer of protection for your passwords in case someone ever does learn what they are. In fact, you may already have tried it when logging into an account on a new device.

The app or service requires you to key in the access code sent to another one of your devices (usually your phone) before you are given access to your account. Failing to provide this access code locks you out of your account. This means that even if hackers obtain your login credentials in some way, they still can’t log into your account without the access code.

Never use the same usernames or passwords for different accounts. This prevents hackers from accessing multiple accounts with just one or more of your login credentials. Also, never share your login credentials with anybody — not even your significant other.

3. Secure Your WiFi

Have you ever heard of a KRACK attack? It’s a proof-of-concept cyberattack carried out by infiltrating your WiFi connection. The hacker then can steal information like browsing data, personal information, and even text message contents.

The problem is that not even WPA2 encryption can stop it. This is actually why The WiFi Alliance started development of WPA3, which it officially introduced this summer.

Do you need WPA3 to defend against KRACK attacks? No. You just need to install security updates when they become available. This is because security updates ensure that a key is installed only once, thereby, preventing KRACK attacks. You can add additional layers of protection by visiting only HTTPS sites and by using a VPN.

You also can use a VPN to protect your device whenever you connect to a public network. It prevents hackers from stealing your information via a MitM (Man in the Middle) attack, or if the network you’ve connected to is actually a rogue network.

4. Browse With Confidence

If you read through your browser company’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, you might find that they actually track your online activities. They then sell this information to ad companies that use methods like analytics to create a profile for each user. This information then is used to create those annoying targeted ads.

How do they do this?

Answer: Web cookies.

For the most part, Web cookies are harmless. They’re used to remember your online preferences like Web form entries and shopping cart contents. However, some cookies (third-party cookies) are made specifically to remain active even on websites they didn’t originate from. They also track your online behavior through the sites you visit and monitor what you click on.

This is why it’s a good idea to clear Web cookies every once in a while. You may be tempted to change your browser settings to simply reject all cookies, but that would result in an overall inconvenient browsing experience.

Another way to address the monitoring issue is to use your browser’s Incognito mode. Your browser won’t save any visited sites, cookies, or online forms while in this mode, but your activities may be visible to the websites you visit, your employer or school, and your ISP.

The best way I’ve found so far is to replace your browser with an anonymous browser.

One example is TOR (The Onion Browser). TOR is a browser made specifically to protect user privacy. It does this by wrapping your online data in several layers of encryption and then “bouncing” it for the same number of times before finally arriving at the right DNS server.

Another example is Epic Browser. While this browser doesn’t run on an onion network like TOR, it does do away with the usual privacy threats, including browsing history, DNS pre-fetching, third-party cookies, Web or DNS caches, and auto-fill features. It automatically deletes all session data once you close the browser.

SRWare Iron will be familiar to Google Chrome users, since it’s based on the open source Chromium project. Unlike Chrome, however, it gets rid of data privacy concerns like usage of a unique user ID and personalized search suggestions.

These three are the best ones I’ve found, but there are other alternatives out there. Whatever privacy browser you choose, make sure it’s compatible with your VPN, as not all privacy browsers are VPN-compatible — and vice-versa.

5. Search Safely

Presenting risks similar to popular browsers are the search engines many people use. Most browser companies also produce their own search engine, which — like the browser — also tracks your online searches. These searches then can be traced to your personal identity by linking them to your computer, account, or IP address.

Aside from that, search engines keep information on your location and usage for up to several days. What most people don’t know is that persons in the legal field actually are allowed to use the information collected by search engines.

If this concerns you at all, you may want to switch to a private search engine. These private search engines often work in the same way: They obtain search results from various sources, and they don’t use personalized search results.

Some of the more popular private search engines include DuckDuckGo, Fireball, and Search Encrypt.

6. Use a VPN

What is a VPN, and why do I strongly recommend it?

A VPN (virtual private network) is a type of software that protects your Internet browsing by encrypting your online data and hiding your true IP address.

Since you already know how online searches are carried out, you already know that browser queries are easily readable by your ISP — or anyone else, for that matter. This is because your online data is, by default, unencrypted. It’s made up of plain text contained in data packets.

You also already know that not even built-in WPA2 encryption is good enough to protect against certain attacks.

This is where a VPN comes in. The VPN courses your online data through secure tunnels until it gets to its intended DNS server. Anyone intercepting your browsing data will find unreadable jargon instead.

You may hear advice against trusting VPNs with your security. I’m actually inclined to partially agree — not all VPNs are secure. However, that doesn’t mean all VPNs are not secure.

The unsecured VPNs I’m referring to are the “free lunch” types that promise to be free forever but actually use or sell your data to ad companies. Use only the safest VPN services you can find.

A VPN is primarily a security tool. While you may enjoy some privacy from its functions, you will want to pair it with a privacy browser and search engine to get the full privacy experience.

A VPN can’t secure your computer or device from malware that’s already present. This is why I always recommend using a VPN together with a good antivirus and firewall program.

Some popular browsers run WebRTC protocols by default. You have to turn off this protocol. This protocol compromises a VPN’s security by allowing your true IP address to be read.

7. Beware of Phishing

You may have the best VPN, anonymous browser, and private search engine on the market, but they won’t do you much good if you’re hooked by a phishing scam.

Phishing employs psychological analysis and social engineering to trick users into clicking a malicious link. This malicious link can contain anything from viruses to cryptojackers.

While phishing attacks usually are sent to many individuals, there’s a more personalized form called “spearphishing.” In that case, the hackers attempt to scam a specific person (usually a high-ranking officer at a company) by using information that’s available only to a select few people that the target knows.

So, how do you avoid being reeled in by phishing attacks?

The first option is to learn how to identify phishing attempts. Beware of messages from people you don’t know. Hover over a link before clicking it to make sure it navigates to the site it portrays. Most importantly, remember that if it’s too good to be true, it most likely is.

The second option is to install an antiphishing toolbar. This software prevents phishing by checking the links you click against a list of sites known to host malware or those that trick you into disclosing financial or personal information.

It then will prompt you, once it determines the link to be connected to one of those sites, and provide you with a path back to safety.

The best examples I’ve found are OpenDNS, Windows Defender Browser Protection, and Avira Browser Safety.

8. Encrypt Your Messages

If you’ve been following tech news in the recent months, you may have found an item about the FBI wanting to break Facebook Messenger’s encryption. Say what you will about the social network giant, but this news reveals one thing: Even the FBI can’t crack encrypted messages without help.

This is why you should always use “encryption mode” in your messaging apps. Apps like Signal, Telegram, and Threema all come with end-to-end encryption and support for text, calls, and even video calls.

If you require constant use of emails, ProtonMail, Tutanota, Mailinator, and MailFence are great alternatives to popular email services that actually monitor your email content.

9. Share Carefully on Social Media

Social media has become one of the best ways to keep in touch with important people in our lives. Catching up to everyone we care about is just a few clicks away. That said, we’re not the only ones looking at their profiles.

Hackers actually frequent social media sites as they hunt for any personal information they can steal. They even can circumvent your “friends only” information by adding you as a friend using a fake account. I don’t think I need to mention the problems hackers can cause once they’ve stolen your identity.

This is why you should exercise caution about what you share on social media. You never know if hackers are using the photos you share to target you for their next attack. You may want to skip out on filling out your profile completely. Avoid giving your phone or home number, and perhaps use a private email to sign up.

10. Update Frequently

You may have heard this before but it’s worth repeating now: Don’t ignore system updates. You may not be aware of it, but updates fix many vulnerabilities that could jeopardize your online privacy.

Most people put off installing updates since they always seem to come at inopportune times. Sometimes we just can’t put up with the dip in performance or Internet speed while updates are being installed.

It’s usually best to suffer what minor inconvenience they cause early rather than risk getting caught in the whirlwind of problems hackers can cause if you should get targeted. Most software and apps now come with an auto-update feature, so you won’t have to manually search and download them.

Bottom Line

Privacy is a human right, and our online privacy should be taken seriously. Don’t neglect to take the necessary steps to protect yours.

Beware of your Internet service provider, and always protect your login credentials no matter how strong they are. Remember to check the network you’re connecting to before you log in.

Watch what your browser and search engine are doing, and consider replacing them with more private ones. Prepare against phishing by learning to identify attempts and installing an antiphishing toolbar.

Always use encrypted messaging, and watch what you share on social media. Finally, never ignore system updates when they become available.

Follow these steps and you’ll soon be on your way to a more private browsing experience.


John Mason, an avid privacy advocate, is founder of TheBestVPN and serves as its chief researcher.

Gartner Indicates Seven Future CMO Spending Trends in Their Latest Survey

Viraj T

Gartner Surveys 600 Marketing Champions Across the US and the UK to Uncover Industry Trends for Enterprises to Prioritize Their Budgets and Allocate Funding

Innovation emerges as the loudest thought in a CMO’s cognizance! About 16 percent of Chief Marketing Officers have confirmed that they spent the maximum on innovation in 2018 — two-thirds confirmed that spending on innovation will grow next year. The irony here is that marketing leaders admitted they are not very confident about how to innovate or exactly where to spend — although beaming of huge ambition about being innovative.

MarTech Series runs down Gartner’s findings and talks about eight trends for 2019 and beyond where marketing leaders are most likely to spend.

1.    Digital Marketing

The winds of change have begun to flow! Businesses are going digital by the hordes and the pursuit to make businesses successful on digital mediums has now gotten the eyeballs of the entire C-suite. 57 percent of marketing leaders are confirming now that they would be inclined to spend on digital marketing endeavors.

We interacted with Derek Slayton, CMO Terminus, and asked him his views on 2019 CMO spend:

Derek Slayton
Derek Slayton

“I actually think marketers are going to have to spend on technology to help with the first two bullets (better targeting and better measuring progress). Most activity-oriented systems today don’t help with where we point the resources and how we measure success.

As far as my team goes — tech aside from Terminus tech (which we are using for segment identification and measurement) — we are excited about Vidyard because it helps us focus on creating great connections with key accounts and stakeholders.”

However, CMOs need to work in conjunction with CFOs. Convincing financial officers to invest for methodologies not yet in the limelight can be extremely hard for the CMO. More so, even if they agree, the CMO is accountable for ROMI.

Also Read: Gartner Predicts Digital Optimization Will Disrupt CRM Sales Technology

2.    MarTech

Marketing Technology is on the radar of CMOs for investment. MarTech spend has increased when compared to the percentage spend last year (29% in 2018 as against 22% in 2017). Evidently then, MarTech is the crux of CMO spend because it serves as the paramount source of marketing resources and initiatives.

As per Gartner’s survey, CMOs will be spending the most on the below mentioned ‘big three’ technologies:

  1. Email Marketing platforms
  2. Web Content Management
  3. Digital Marketing Analytics platforms

Although, Ewan McIntyre, who is the lead author of the report, asks CMOs to practice caution. MarTech is extremely effective but can be costly. Marketing leaders need to think this through in order to avoid financial disasters.

3.    Advertising

The survey reflects the CMO’s annual spend for 2018 was capped at 21 percent for advertising. This is for both offline and online (digital) models of advertising. However, as per the first trend of this report, CMOs now prefer to spend a lot more (two-thirds out of the 21 percent budget) on digital advertising. Paid advertising on digital channels such as search engines, social mediums, et al. are the focus areas of digital advertisement spending.

Also Read: Can Google’s Flutter Truly Solve the Developer Nightmare of Cross-Platform Application Programming?

We spoke to Jenn Steele, CMO, Madison Logic, to understand if she agrees with the trends:

Jenn Steele
Jenn Steele

“Well, ABM is still super-hot, so I see people continuing to spend on various ABM tactics. At our recent client summit, everyone was buzzing around how to use data in the best ways, so data sources and solutions should be in most marketers’ budgets.

Personally, I’m looking at AI tools such as Drift and Conversica so that I can do more with less (because we all have to do more with less, right?). These tools help us drive contacts to a more “ready” state before we have to get a more expensive human being involved.”

GDPR and the current atmosphere of user privacy and data security is the worst nightmare for owners of digital mediums. Even when red flags are being raised for brands as huge as Facebook, marketing leaders choose to continue ingesting a substantial chunk of dollars for paid advertising. Main reasons? Increasing revenues and proving to stakeholders that marketing is a critical cog to aid the enterprise’s engine to run smoothly. Other reasons are bolstering brand value gaining new business.

4.    Workhorses

Tech watchers are going gaga over emerging technologies such as ABM, AI, ML, Programmatic and Native among many others. Even then, CMOs spend a whopping 25% on workhorse technologies such as email, organic search, paid search, etc. So why do marketing leaders continue to invest in these technologies that belong to a prior phase of MarTech evolution? Here are the reasons:

  • These channels are easy to measure for ROI
  • Easier to groom in-house talent to operate workhorse technologies
  • Easier to prove the effectiveness of these channels to stakeholders compared to newer, impactful but complex technologies

Workhorse technologies still work, and really well!

5.    Innovation

Innovation is a major focus area for the CMO. According to 9 percent of the CMOs surveyed, innovation will be vital in enterprise growth over the coming 18 months. And they are right — the business eco-system overall is flux. Disruptions, changing consumer behaviors, M&As, and so many other factors are ensuring that it is difficult for enterprises to run their business. Hence, innovation automatically becomes the fallback element of every enterprise.

Also Read: Interview with Peter Isaacson, CMO, Demandbase

To confirm the growing importance of innovation, now, 63% of CMOs confirm that their spend on innovation will only grow in 2019.

Speaking about innovation, Jeff Nolan, CMO, Kahuna, said,

Jeff Nolan
Jeff Nolan

“Modern marketing is increasingly centered on data science, and if we accept that premise, CMOs will spend big on AI. The underlying neural networks are services now. It is the training model and ability to ingest massive amounts of data, which is generated by your systems but increasingly purchased from other vendors, that is the critical element in these initiatives. I am in a B2B market, so what I’m looking at are technologies that give me deep perspective on funnel and pipeline. I want to be able to look at my demand gen activities holistically but then down to increasing granular cohorts that I can gauge for the probability to close, or not.

This is important for me because this will give me insight into where I should be focused, which then guides strategy and tactics. Where existing analytics solutions come up short is that they start with a premise of “this is good, do more of it,” which leads to unnatural bias that gets increasingly narrow in scope, and then misses the opportunities that emerge that are outside of the static scoring models. Basically, I need a really intelligent system that is capable of generating human insights on data across a portfolio of groupings and metrics.”

Marketers nowadays employ a hybrid marketing strategy for their campaigns. Here the hybrid model will mean sticking to the core marketing tactics and methods while embracing and applying newer technologies. But as discussed before, Chief Marketing Officers’ abilities do not really match up to their ability to innovate. The survey is indicative though marketers want to change and be more matured and absorb innovation.

6.    Customer Experience

The start-up culture is going full throttle. Newer companies that offer innovative, cutting-edge and problem-solving technical capabilities are being founded in multitudes. This has given rise to stringent competition and made it harder for businesses to better serve their existing customers and gain newer ones. From a customer standpoint, their expectation from a brand about how they want to be treated has skyrocketed.

Spending on Customer Experience (CX) has been picking up speed from the past several years. According to the survey concluded, it will see a good amount of CMO spend over the coming one and a half years. CMOs that were a part of the survey have declared that they will be spending 18% of their budget on Customer Experience.

7.    Personalization

Personalization is an extension of existing enterprise efforts towards providing a maximum positive customer experience. CMOs are spending an average of 14.2 % of their budgets on personalization efforts. The interesting element here is that double-digit spends are common across industries. The spending is critically invested in gaining deeper insights into the accumulated customer data.

Richard Black, CMO at Aki Technologies, said,

Richard Black
Richard Black

“I think brand CMOs will continue to increase their spend on the media that actually works. These days, mobile is no longer a place to test; it’s where a brand has to be because consumers have their devices with them all day long. Eyeballs are always on mobile.

So, smart CMOs will look for tech that helps them optimize and maximize the impact of mobile dollars so they reach people when they are most receptive to marketing messages. AI developments will help there. And, of course, video can make mobile creative even more impactful. OTT is another area that I see spend increasing with better and better content coming through and more eyeballs heading that way.”

Considering GDPR, marketers need to be careful about not pushing too much in their efforts to obtain data. This might just completely drive away consumers. Marketers may have dollars and data but there is an atmosphere of uncertainty pertaining, where marketers must tread cautiously. Marketing leaders need to develop fool-proof strategies taking into account the current market and consumer complexities.

Clearly, 2019 seems to be the year for innovation and customer experience with statistics pointing at a maximum spending in these spheres. The survey also speaks of changing patterns of marketers towards their perspective on the whole marketing operations stream. Typically, to gauge marketing performance, businesses have a fixed set of KPIs that are crafted around ROI and customer satisfaction. However, marketers are adamant that they would want to design their campaigning around brand awareness.

Andrea Lechner-Becker
Andrea Lechner-Becker

Here is Andrea Lechner-Becker, CMO, LeadMD, with the parting note:

“I think they’ll spend on technology. But I wish they’d spend on headcount and training. Marketing teams, regardless of size, are missing core and important skill sets. We have not educated marketers well at the collegiate level in a decade. The pace of change in marketing is too fast to go to a conference or webinar here or there and maintain the ability to be “good” at your job.

Technologies I’m looking at… I’m obsessed with B2B data right now, or the lack of great data. I want someone to fix the buyer insights data problem for me.”

Recommended Read: TechBytes with Josh Martin, Sr. Director, Product Marketing, Brightspot CMS

Handling Candidate Data Will Be Under the Spotlight in 2019

Employment screening will benefit from AI, but the technology is not ready yet

By Roy Maurer, Online Manager/Editor, Talent Acquisition – SHRM Online – January 31, 2019

This is the second article in a two-part series. The first installment detailed the growing trends of social media screening and real-time employee monitoring, as well as the emerging acceptance of job candidates with criminal backgrounds.

 

Employers that conduct employment background checks will continue to feel the pressure to safeguard applicant and employee data in 2019. HR professionals will also be interested in how artificial intelligence (AI) technology will improve the screening experience, according to experts.

Data-Breach Concerns Lead to Increased Focus on Security

Data-breach protection, information security and compliance with privacy laws will be top of mind for those managing employment screening in 2019.

“The massive data breach suffered by nationwide credit reporting agency Equifax in September 2017 that impacted more than 145 million Americans—almost half of the country—was a wake-up call for all industries to improve their information security,” said Les Rosen, founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources, a background-screening firm in Novato, Calif. “The need for background-screening firms that handle the personal data of job applicants to ensure information security has become mission critical.”

[Visit SHRM’s resource page on background checks.]

Montserrat Miller, an attorney in the Atlanta office of Arnall Golden Gregory and co-chair of the firm’s privacy and consumer regulatory practice, advised HR professionals to ask their screening partners how they are safeguarding personal data and what their notification protocols are in case of a breach.

“In addition to following the Federal Trade Commission guidance on the proper data-security practices, businesses that utilize a consumer reporting agency for their background-screening services should be sure to partner with one that has achieved accreditation with the National Association of Professional Background Screeners,” said Christine Cunneen, CEO of Providence, R.I.-based background-check company Hire Image.

Rosen said that employers should also consider using background-check firms that undergo an annual Service Organization Control, or SOC 2, audit from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to ensure high standards for the protection of privacy, security and confidentiality of consumer information used for background checks.

Miller added that “if HR prints the background-check reports for whatever reason, [the printouts] should be maintained in a confidential manner and not shared with anyone outside of the appropriate decision-makers.” She added that in accordance with the company’s data-retention policy, background-check reports must be disposed of properly, by destroying or erasing electronic files or shredding, burning or pulverizing paper documents.

Organizations conducting background screens of citizens of the European Union (EU) will also have to be mindful of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect in May 2018. The law requires that employers receive consent to process a subject’s data, ensure that collected data is made anonymous to protect privacy, make data-breach notifications, safely handle the transfer of data across borders, and in some cases, appoint a data protection officer to oversee compliance.

“If an employer in the U.S. has international operations, and if there is going to be any exchange of personal data from employees in the EU to the U.S., then it needs to be aware of GDPR and needs to make sure it is in compliance with it and that its vendors are in compliance with it,” Miller said.

The maximum penalty for noncompliance is up to 4 percent of an organization’s annual global revenue or 20 million euros—whichever is greater.

AI Improves Background Checks But …

The use of technologies such as AI, machine learning and automation will enhance background checks in 2019, but humans still need to be involved due to discrimination concerns.

“Background screeners haven’t fully adopted AI in the screening process yet, but we are seeing signs of it where screeners continue to automate their operations,” said Jason Morris, an employment-screening consultant and industry expert with Morris Group Consulting, based in Cleveland. “In the past, we would simply throw people at processes and increase our labor for searches,” he said. “Now AI allows us to automate and put machines in places of seats, allowing for a faster and in some cases a more accurate background check. It’s exciting to see screeners innovate, and I’m confident you will see AI continue to grow in the industry.”

Conal Thompson, chief technology officer at background-screening company HireRight, said that AI will play a major role in the employee screening and recruitment processes by reducing the time to hire, improving quality of hire and improving the candidate experience.

“In today’s competitive labor market, in which a positive candidate experience in the screening process plays a major role in candidates’ decisions to accept job offers, utilizing AI to interact with job applicants faster and more effectively can make a real difference,” he said.

“Without a doubt, cutting-edge technology like AI plays a vital role in what we do to enable companies to outsource social media screening in a smarter, cost-effective and efficient way,” said Bianca Lager, the president of Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Social Intelligence Corp., a leading provider of social media screening reports. “Things like finding where people are creating content online and zooming in on places and types of content that could be risky for an employer are what AI is effectively delivering right now, which is a huge time and resource saver.”

Rosen added, “While there is no doubt AI technology and automation increase productivity, streamline processes and reduce turnaround time in the screening process, background checks still need a guiding human touch until sufficiently nonbiased AI algorithms can be created to ensure that discriminatory hiring decisions aren’t made.”

Since the AI buzz began, experts have been saying that “biased AI” can be created by algorithms shaped by human prejudices or insufficient data.

“Human augmentation is still incredibly important,” Thompson agreed. “Employers should keep in mind that most AI learns as it goes, which could present risks and have unintended consequences on the screening process. For example, if an AI application, after reviewing thousands of candidates for thousands of jobs, realizes that a significant number of candidates it has recommended has certain demographic attributes, it may bias its own algorithm with a preference for candidates who first meet those criteria.”

In addition, Lager cautioned HR buyers to be aware that just because a company markets itself as providing AI and machine learning doesn’t mean that it’s true. “Companies are taking giant liberties with those words as descriptions,” she said. “The key is to understand the limitations of that technology and how it affects the deliverable of the service or product you are buying. It is imperative to ask questions about consumer compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and how data is acquired.”

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