Monthly Archives: June 2012

Social Media Matters: Silly disclaimer won’t save you on Twitter

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, June 29, 2012
Metro section

Silly disclaimer won’t save you on Twitter

Recently, I witnessed an employee of a company go to great pains to stress that the views on his Twitter account were his own and did not reflect the views of his employer.

Unfortunately, the employee in question put the name of his employer in his Twitter profile, mentioned the employer in his tweets, involved himself in an unsolicited way in a company-related matter that was — to say the least — none of his business, and then referred all further questions to the president of his company. Yet, he stressed that he was just stating his personal opinion.

Because of this disclaimer, he likely believed that it inoculated him against being taken to task for anything he had to say, be it by his employer, clients or others.

Let’s get real here, people. If you get involved in an online discussion on a matter involving your employer (directly, indirectly or from afar), you’ll be perceived as speaking on behalf of your employer. Your comments may not have been authorized by your employer, mind you, but you’ll have to wear them – and so will your employer.

Take responsibility!

Remember, what you say online will reflect on you – either good or bad. I’ll make up an example.

Let’s say you work for a (fictional) company called Littlest Hobo Auto Sales and they sell vehicles made by ABC Motors. You work there, yet you dislike the new design of the 2012 ABC Zebra sedan. You take to your Twitter account (which describes you publicly as a sales representative at Littlest Hobo Auto Sales) and tweet the following: “I hate the new ABC Zebra’s design. Ugh! This is my own personal opinion.” You even post it on your own time from your home computer.

Do you honestly believe that you won’t be taken to task for your comments by the dealership’s sales manager or owner and that it won’t affect the company’s bottom line?

You’ve just criticized the company’s new vehicle offering in a public setting — and you sell them, too! “It was my own opinion and I tweeted it on my own time. I have the disclaimer up that my views don’t reflect my employer,” you’d reply. Not good enough.

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee here. Even if you tweet under your own name and leave your company’s name out of your profile and your tweets, if people (including family, friends, media, competitors, co-workers, management) know where you work and you’re saying negative or controversial things, then be prepared for consequences. They may not be overt consequences, but things can happen behind the scenes about which you’ll never know.

Freedom of speech also comes with responsibility. You can’t walk into a crowded cinema and yell, “Fire!” You can’t expect to spew negativity online and have it not reflect on you and the people around you. Your clients are watching. If you want to post negativity, be prepared for it to bounce back.

You have the freedom to say what you want, but remember that people also have the freedom to react the way they want. Silly little disclaimers such as “My tweets are my own” are worthless, in my opinion. You’re going to wear everything you say whether you like it or not, and you can’t stop the people around you from judging you for it – harshly or otherwise. Employees on their own time must realize that their actions can affect their employment.

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Every week, I feature three YouTube channels for you to check out. Have a favourite channel? Let me know about it and I may feature it here! Statistics are current to June 26.

Glen Munro
Glen Munro

1) Brain Diesel (10 subscribers): Brain Diesel is a Moncton-based training company owned and operated by Glen Munro, a Microsoft Certified Trainer. For the past year or so, Glen has been producing a variety of training videos to help people better use Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel, in addition to a number of other tips and tricks related to online usage and other programs. To learn more about Brain Diesel and the training courses Glen offers, visit his website. (Most popular video: Cannot see thumbnail Pics in Windows 7 – 2,787 views.)

2) The Google Channel (636,812 subscribers): As the channel’s title clearly suggests, this is Google’s official YouTube channel. The channel hosts nearly 1,500 videos organized into 10 playlists that include Google Plus, 15-second Search Tips, Teach Parents Tech, and Life in a Day. In all, the huge number of posted videos have amassed nearly 600 million combined views. (Most popular video: Gmail’s new look – 29,947,756 views.)

3) Nickelback TV (255,733 subscribers): Bruce Springsteen isn’t the only hugely popular musical act to be gracing the Magnetic Hill concert site this summer. Moncton is also hosting Nickelback at the site on Saturday, July 7. Opening for the headlining band will be Three Days Grace, I Mother Earth, Arkells, My Darkest Days, and Gloryhound. The band seems to be one of the more polarizing acts in the music business with a large number of haters out there. According to a CBC New Brunswick report posted in April after the announcement was made, Detroit football fans petitioned to have the band removed from playing at an NFL halftime show last November when the Detroit Lions took on the Green Bay Packers. Despite the haters, the band’s YouTube videos have nearly 260 million combined views, so someone out there likes them! (Most popular video: Nickelback – Lullaby – 6,514,732 views.)

Hump Day: Madly executing manly manoeuvres at the speed of Hyundai

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

“Can this thing go fast?” my godson asked of my vehicle as I gave him a drive to the golf course.

“Pffft… of course it can!” I bragged as I put the pedal to the metal and accelerated to the limit at the speed of light – or at least the speed of Hyundai.

Ah, a male-bonding moment between a wildly popular newspaper columnist with millions (thousands? dozens? OK… would you believe at least my mother?) of fans, the celebrity godfather to the world’s most handsome and intelligent godson. Oh, I’d show the brat (albeit a handsome one). I’d speed up to the limit so fast he’d be peeling the skin from his teenage face off the inside of the back windshield.

It was all I could do but growl like a bear and bark like a dog in this incredibly testosterone-filled moment. He would remember this forever. So would I. He would probably have a full beard by the end of it, I bet! Gee, maybe I’d even take him to his first bar after this and we’d share a beer. OK, well maybe not. He’s only 15.

The most masculine moment of my life soon turned into me acting like a little girl who just wet her pants, however, after I reached the speed limit and removed my foot from the pedal. “See, this thing can go fast! Bark! Bark! Growl!” I practically grew claws right then and there and bit a hole in the vehicle’s roof.

Unfortunately, when I took my foot off the pedal, the pedal stayed glued to the floor and I went from being a manly trucker who eats scrap metal for breakfast to my best imitation of a dolly that cries for its mama and wets the bed. Well, wets the bed may be a bit of an understatement. It was more like a fire hose at full force at this point.

Now, this is one of those times when you kick yourself. Was this really necessary? Would the world have continued to turn on its axis if I hadn’t tried to show off ? Probably.

So, with visions of front-page headlines in the newspaper the next day that would most certainly read “Beloved columnist and stunningly handsome godson die as manly vehicle reaches speeds previously unknown to mankind,” I thought it might be best to figure something out before that happened.

Of course, all this took place within the space of two seconds. I wouldn’t want you to think that I took 10 minutes to make a decision on what to do. I applied the brakes and we slowed down considerably.

Of course, this is not great for the brakes, especially when the gas pedal is still floored, but at this point it was either going to be a funeral for my brakes or a funeral for us. I bid my brakes a fond adieu.

We slowed down gradually and safely as I pulled over to the highway’s shoulder, but the vehicle wouldn’t come to a full stop even with the brakes fully applied. I told my godson to get his hand down on the pedal to pull it back up, which he did immediately.

“The pedal was stuck under the floor mat,” he said. He easily released it without much effort.

Unfortunately, when you’re driving, there’s no way of knowing what is fully going on while you’re trying to maintain control of the vehicle – and your bowels.

We then continued along our merry way, my attempt at a show of complete and utter godfatherly masculinity and manliness preempted by a stuck gas pedal, a puddle in my pants and mascara-stained tears rolling down my cheeks.

Needless to say, I yanked the floor mat back with my feet once I knew that was the problem. I spoke to someone else later who told me the same thing had happened to them once. A subsequent online search showed that the problem is not uncommon – either due to design flaws in certain vehicles (not in my particular case) or a loose floor mat that inadvertently slipped under the pedal.

Since we were just leaving family graduation celebrations for my godson’s older brother, we started joking around morbidly after the pedal incident that the newspaper would be filled (filled, I tells ya!) with happy photos showing friends and family honouring the graduate alongside headlines that screamed “tragedy,” “disaster,” and the like – and peppered liberally with “beloved columnist” and “stunningly handsome godson,” of course.

We were even pretty sure the pope would fly in from The Vatican to do the joint funeral. We couldn’t believe for a minute that he’d pass up the opportunity for a worldwide television audience, not to mention seeing our diamond-encrusted caskets.

The moral of the story, of course, is to check your stupid floor mat to make sure your stupid gas pedal can’t get stuck under it. (Eloquently put, no?) Oh – and don’t try to show off to your godson (even if he’s stunningly handsome) to prove you’re the manliest godfather ever to walk on God’s green earth.

Luckily, the only funeral we’ll be having is for my brakes at my next regular maintenance. They still work fine, but I can’t imagine that making them fight against a gas pedal stuck to the floor did them any wonders. I’m no psychic, but I see an expensive brake job in my future.

Oh well, better than trying to explain it all to St. Peter at the Pearly Gates after he would have asked, “So, what brings you both here today… a bit earlier than expected!”

Social Media Matters: U.K. going after Internet trolls

Social Media MattersSocial Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Friday, June 22, 2012
Metro section

U.K. going after Internet trolls

Earlier this month, the British government introduced legislation called the Defamation Bill.

According to a June 12 Reuters report, “Website operators may soon be forced under planned new British laws to reveal the identity of those who post defamatory comments on their forums, a move that aims to protect victims by speeding up what is often a lengthy and expensive legal process.”

Kenneth Clarke
Kenneth Clarke

According to British Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, “The government wants a libel regime for the Internet that makes it possible for people to protect their reputations effectively but also ensures that information online can’t be easily censored by casual threats of litigation against website operators.”

The article went on to explain that, while British defamation laws are considered to be very strong with the onus of proof being on the defendant, obtaining a judgment that would force an apology, removal of the comments and/or compensation) is basically something only those who have sufficient financial resources can achieve.

The new law proposes that Internet providers act as intermediaries in order to attempt to resolve the issue between those who posted the questionable content and those who feel wronged. According to the Reuters article, if attempts at a solution failed, the Internet provider “would be required to hand over the subscriber’s contact details so the complainant could pursue legal action against the author. The website itself would be protected against any action as long as it complied with these rules.”

Union JackThe legislation is being proposed due to complaints from businesses and individuals in the U.K. who are fed up with online trolls who post and circulate lies and rumours about them online.

This is an excellent initiative by the U.K. government. While still protecting freedom of speech, it also ensures that online trolls don’t redefine “freedom of speech” into “freedom to lie.” Unfortunately, there is a very strong online subculture that believes that the freedom to spread lies should also exist.

U.K. bans Nike Twitter ad campaign

NikeThe U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has clamped down on advertising campaign run by sports giant Nike.

The campaign saw Nike-sponsored athletes posting Nike-related tweets. Unfortunately, the athletes did not make it clear that the tweets were a form of sponsored advertising for Nike. According to a BBC News Technology report posted June 20, Manchester United soccer player Wayne Rooney posted a tweet that read, “My resolution – to start the year as a champion, and finish it as a champion…#makeitcount” Soccer player Jack Wilshere posted something similar while promoting Nike’s Make It Count campaign.

The ASA took issue with the tweets because the posters did not make the tweets “identifiable as marketing communications” and suggested that future posts include the hashtag #ad to make them more easily identifiable as spon­sored tweets.

This week’s featured YouTube channels

Every week, I feature three YouTube channels for you to check out. Have a favourite channel? Let me know about it and I may feature it here! Statistics are current to June 19.

Valentina Lisitsa
Valentina Lisitsa

1) Valentina Lisitsa (54,363 subscribers): Valentina Lisitsa is considered the Justin Bieber of the classical piano world because she was discovered after posting videos of herself playing the piano on YouTube. (Bieber was also discovered on YouTube.) Born in the Ukraine, Lisitsa became so popular that she performed in front of an audience of 2,500 at London’s Royal Albert Hall on June 19. Her nearly 200 videos have about 45 million views. (Most popular video: Beethoven ‘Moonlight’ Sonata op 27 # 2 Mov 3 Valentina Lisitsa – 3,103,677 views.)

2) WWE’s Official YouTube Destination (542,091 subscribers): This is the very popular YouTube channel of the WWE, short for World Wrestling Entertaining (formerly World Wrestling Federation). This channel has views galore with its videos having been seen about 320 million times. If you’re a fan of professional wrestling, this is the place for you! Playlists include WrestleMania XXVIII, Entrance Videos, Must-See Videos, WWE Classics, Outside the Ring and Backstage Fallout. (Featured video: Buh-bye Big Johnny – ‘Backstage Fallout’ Raw – June 18, 2012 – 1,833 views.) (No list available of most-watched videos.)

Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher

3) Thrash Lab (3,496 subscribers): Thrash Lab is owned by actor Ashton Kutcher, although he won’t appear in much content, according to an article about the channel published June 19 in AdAgeDigital. According to the article, the channel is growing its catalogue of original online content. ‘The first three series are ‘Subculture Club,’ a documentary-style show that looks at subcultures around the country, such as the ‘Real Rydaz’ bicycle club from South Central Los Angeles.’ Despite being relatively new, the channel already has more than 750,000 total views for its 25 videos. (Most popular video: Life Off The Grid In Slab City | Subculture Club – 273,866 views.) (Note: Most Popular Video has been updated since column appeared in the Times & Transcript.)

Hump Day: Some sound advice for our fresh young crop of high school grads

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I can’t believe it, but I graduated from high school 30 years ago today.

It was a Sunday. It was Father’s Day. And it was scorching hot inside the J.-Louis Lévesque Arena in Moncton where the ceremony for nearly 500 graduates was held.

How in the world could we have ever guessed how the world would change since then? Pierre Trudeau was still Prime Minister of Canada. Richard Hatfield was Premier of New Brunswick. Ronald Reagan was President of the United States.

Dennis Cochrane was Mayor of Moncton. All but Mr. Cochrane have passed away since that day.

Back then, I think we all expected 2012 to be an era when cars were replaced by hovercraft – you know, like something out of The Jetsons. We’d all eat food pills… none of the real stuff! Robots would do our chores. Money would be obsolete and we’d pay simply by scanning a chip embedded in our brain.

Today, same-sex marriage is the law of the land – something pretty much unfathomable in 1982. The Internet? At the time, people would have simply cocked their heads to one side and asked, ‘What’s an Internet?’ Lady Gaga. Justin Bieber. Cold­play. Taylor Swift. Again, ‘What’s a Lady Gaga?’ The thing is, all those high school students graduating over the next week will be experiencing exactly what I did all those years ago. First, it will likely be so warm in the auditorium that they’ll all be fanning themselves with their programs despite being asked not to.

(That seems to be a universal thing to do at June graduation ceremonies.) There’s also the excitement and trepidation about going to university, moving out of your parents’ place to get a job and working full-time or moving away to start a new life by following your artistic passion such as music, art or dance. In past columns around this time of the year, I’ve posted some advice to graduates. Once again, I’ll take it upon myself to dramatically change the course of your lives (or maybe not) by imparting some of my profound (please stop laughing) wisdom on you.

First, let me promise you one thing. Thirty years from now seems like a long way away, but trust me: one day you’ll wake up and be in your late 40s and wonder where the time went. That’s OK, it happens to everyone. However, here’s some advice on how to make sure you’re in a good place when you blink and realize that three decades have passed since you sat in that sweltering auditorium dressed to the nines trying not to faint from the intense heat.

First up: money. Pay cash for what you can and use credit intelligently. Pay off your credit card every month. Build up a good credit rating by paying everything on time and by not taking on more debt than you can manage. Save money.

Start investing in your retirement immediately. You don’t want to end up chowing down on cat food for Christmas dinner, do you?

Remember: people change. You know the people you can’t stand right now? Well, 30 years from now, they’re likely going to be really nice and all grown up. You’ll be surprised what 30 years, kids, marriage and a career can do to a person. In fact, you’ll probably end up liking them a lot. I know, I know. Likely hard to believe right now, but people do grow up and mature.

When you go to university and end up not liking what you’re studying, change things up immediately.

I’ve seen so many people stay in specific university degree programs because they were too embarrassed to admit it wasn’t for them. Change!

Sure, finish off your courses or even your year so that you get at least get some credits under your belt, but don’t waste your time getting a degree in something you know you don’t want to do. Student loans pile up quickly. No need going into that much debt over something you know you don’t want to do.

If you don’t already know how, learn to drive as soon as possible.

At some point, you’ll need to drive a vehicle either for work or to get to work. Learn to cook. Fast food only goes so far. Learn some basic sewing techniques. Trust me, at some point you’re going to lose a button on your best shirt just before an important meeting and you’ll want to know how to sew one back on. Still can’t sew? Then find a good local seamstress and keep her busy with your mending work.

Learn how to do laundry properly before leaving for university.

If you have an issue with your weight, try and do your best to get it under control immediately and stick to a food plan that works for you. It only gets more difficult as you age to lose the weight and keep it off. Thirty years from now, you’ll be surprised at how ill many people your age are. Don’t be one of them. Do everything you can to stay healthy. Visit your doctor on a regular basis.

It goes without saying, but stop smoking if you do and don’t start if you don’t. Enjoy a drink or two safely if you want, but never drink or drive. Ever. It’s not cool. It’s not funny. It won’t prove your manhood (or womanhood).

So, that’s it for this year. Happy graduation! It’s a new beginning and it’s exciting! Best wishes to each and every one of you as you embark on this new adventure.