This week’s Social Media Matters column (originally published April 15, 2011)

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, April 15, 2011
Metro section

Elephant hunt causes problems for Godaddy

If you’ve ever purchased a domain name or hosted a website, you may very well have used Godaddy (www.godaddy.com), one of the more popular services. You may know them from the beautiful women they often use in their advertising and on their homepage.

Well, it seems that Godaddy’s CEO Bob Parsons has caused quite a stir with a recent video that showed him hunting elephants in Zimbabwe.

According to Parsons’ video, he hunts elephants on a regular basis, but only ones that are “problems” for farmers and villagers.

The video caused so much outrage that an up-and-coming rival – Namecheap (www.namecheap.com) – saw a marketing opportunity and began offering discount transfers for animal-loving Godaddy customers wanting to bail ship. As well, the company would donate some of the proceeds to Save the Elephants (www.savetheelephants.org), a Kenya-based charity working to protect these majestic animals – about $1 per new customer transferring in from Godaddy.

Namecheap’s efforts even earned a mention in the April 18th edition of Time Magazine after Namecheap announced that it raised $20,433 for the charity thanks to angry Godaddy customers abandoning the well-known service provider.

Namecheap has certainly benefited from the public anger over Parsons’ hunting trip, earning more than 20,000 new customers, most of whom will never even consider returning to Godaddy based on their negative perception of the CEO’s actions.

Facebook scams and hoaxes

If you’ve received an invitation to an event called “Who blocked you from his friend list?”, it’s best to steer clear. I received my first invitation to the so-called event last week from a young cousin of mine. I thought it was odd. According to online security firm Sophos (www.sophos.com), more than 10 million Facebook users have been duped into clicking on similar bogus events.

The “Find out who blocked you” or “Find out who’s been looking at your profile” scams have been around for a long time. None of them work and they are all complete hoaxes. Don’t waste your time. All they want is access to your information.

The names they display as people who’ve visited your profile recently are randomly picked from your friend list. It means nothing.

After a few months of not seeing it, a well-known Amber Alert hoax showed up on my newsfeed again a couple of weeks ago being spread innocently by a relatively new Facebook user. The hoax goes something like this:

“AMBER ALERT!!! Edmonton, Kentucky USA little girl, 3 yrs old picked up by man driving grey car, license plate: Quebec 72B 381. Canada. Put this as your status. It could save her. This kidnapping is recent so do it, 3 seconds will not kill you. If it were your child…. what would you want people to do. Just now happening!!!!! please…”

The cities sometimes change, but the licence plate number usually stays the same in variances of the hoax. It’s very effective, especially because it targets the worst fears in many people: the loss of a child. The other “who blocked you” hoax also preys on our fear of rejection. Hoaxes that can do those things effectively tend to be very successful.

A reminder: Before reposting anything that even seems the tiniest bit fishy, put some of the key words in your favourite search engine and you’ll find out pretty quickly that it’s all fake. Want to try it out? Type in the licence plate number “72B 381” in Google, click search and you’ll soon see the truth behind the so-called “emergency.” In the end, it’s just some prankster’s sick joke.

Facebook founder graces yet another magazine cover

Facebook founder and Time Magazine’s person of the year Mark Zuckerberg is on the cover of the May 2011 edition of Success Magazine. Entitled “The Facebook Age: What began as a lark in Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room has changed the way people relate to one another,” the article is also available online at www.successmagazine.com.

Here’s an excerpt from the article quoting B.J. Fogg, who’s taught courses on the psychology of Facebook at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California:

“I would rather own Facebook than Google. It has something that nobody else will be able to create. What Facebook has created is unique – it’s a network of people.

“It’s not just a list of people; it’s people who are connected to each other and sharing. I can’t switch tomorrow out of Facebook to somewhere else and drag my hundreds of friends along with me. It’s clearly a unique asset that can’t be easily recreated or replaced.”

YouTube video gets police offer in hot water

A Texas police offer found himself in a bit of trouble earlier this week when a video of him pepper spraying a baby squirrel (yes, a baby squirrel) was posted to YouTube. According to news reports, the Mesquite Texas Department claims the officer was protecting children who’d complained the squirrel was chasing them.

To stop the chasing, the police officer decided to use pepper spray… on a baby squirrel.

This was done despite pleas from the children not to do it. The squirrel was subsequently treated and was released back into its habitat.

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