All posts by Andrew Robertson

About Andrew Robertson

I'm Andrew, I work as the Social Media & Marketing Assistant at SocialSafe. I've been writing blogs on here for over two years now, so you'll find pieces from me about anything relating to social media and tech, as well as the changing face of personal data. There's also room for the occasional post on some slightly off topics stories... just for the sake of variety!!

Lessons To Be Learned From Turkey’s Twitter Shutdown

One of the problems inherent with social networks is also the one of the biggest reasons that we use them – because other people use these networks. The likes of Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and the others wouldn’t be half as much fun if you couldn’t connect and converse with other users, or if there was no one else to like your posts and leave comments. However, what if the other people who use the networks start misbehaving?

We’re all using a communal area to share content and interact with our own networks of connections, but if enough people are deemed to have abused the service or used it for purposes considered to be illegal, then there is the risk that the whole thing may be shut down. Last week, Twitter was blocked by the Turkish government after the network had been used to distribute material that purportedly showed corruption inside Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s inner circle.

This blog is not the place to be discussing any of the political or moral issues surrounding the events, but we will look at the reality of the situation. And this reality is the fact that one day people were free to log on to Twitter and access their information and historic content, and the next day they were not. The overwhelming majority of Turkish people using Twitter will not have been responsible for the actions that caused the government to take the steps it did, however they paid the price for being part of that network.

It goes to show that even though we have every faith the content we create online will always be there whenever we may need to reference it, the unfortunate reality is that there is simply no way of knowing whether or not a network may have technical problems, be attacked by hackers, or forcibly made unavailable to you.

The best way to ensure that you can always access the content you have shared and created on social networks is to keep your own personal copy of it. You never know when you may need to look back, nor do you know if there will ever been anything stopping you from doing so when that need arises. With SocialSafe you can become the master of your own destiny when it comes to your information, by creating your own personal data library that you own and control.

As More Police Departments Use Social Media, What Are The Compliance Risks?

Social networks have increased the speed and scope of our communicating ability so much that it is little wonder businesses and organisations are rapidly adopting these channels. One area that is proving to be a fertile ground for building relationships is law enforcement.

A 2013 survey in the United States found that 96% of police departments used social media in some capacity. Facebook was by far the most popular platform, with 92.1% of the police departments using social media having a presence on the worlds largest social network. The next most commonly used channel was Twitter, with 64.8% of the police departments using social media having an account on the micro blogging platform.

While police departments are predominantly using their social network accounts to aid the solving of crimes by asking local residents to come forward with information, having a social network presence is also improving the relationship between communities and their law enforcement agencies. Lynn Hightower, communications director at the Boise Police Department says:

“People can communicate with the police department, it’s no longer that 800-pound gorilla that no one knows how to communicate with.”

It’s great to see the positive changes that can arise from the use of social media by individuals and organisations, and if you read the end of the Mashable article Police Turn to Social Media to Fight Crime, Dispel Rumors, there’s a feel-good story.

However, if you are a business or a public or government body using social media, it’s worth being aware of any regulations that might apply to your particular industry or sector. You will likely have certain responsibilities when it comes to records retention, and more often than not it isn’t enough to simply rely upon being able to find something on the social networks themselves.

We recently produced a White Paper that looks at some of the legal risks posed to businesses who use social media as part of their marketing and communication efforts, and how those risks can be best minimised. You can download Minimising the Legal and Regulatory Risks of Social Media in Business for free now.

SocialSafe To Speak At Personal Information Economy 2014

Next week SocialSafe will be exhibiting at The Personal Information Economy 2014 event in London, where we’ll be talking to people about how they can take control on their information, and why the individual should be the focal point for personal data aggregation.

Ctrl-Shift, a recognised authority in the emerging personal information economy, is running the Personal Information Economy 2014 event on March 20th in central London. Attracting senior executives from leading global businesses, demonstrations from entrepreneurs, and a list of world class speakers this event is designed to be the forum for organisations interested in the opportunities arising from the personal information economy including the opportunity to innovate, add value and cut costs.

As trusted Personal information management is fast becoming a critical component of business strategy for consumer facing brands, organisations and their suppliers we are delighted to be involved in an event which explores this important topic, and look forward to contributing our views on personal data management. SocialSafe will be participating in the Entrepreneurs’ Showcase, and our Founder & Chairman Julian Ranger will bring his expertise to the event, speaking in the session entitled “New revenue streams and growth from innovation.”

As well as Julian speaking at the event, Rory Donnelly – VP Global Sales & Marketing – will also be attending, so if you are at the event please stop by our stand and have a chat with either of them.

There is plenty more information about the event and the line-up of speakers, as well as the event programme, and this can be found on the Personal Information Economy 2014 website. There is also a FAQ about the event. We hope to see you next Thursday!

Twitter Outage – How To Access Your Tweets, DMs, Mentions and More…

Last night saw another Twitter outage affecting users of both the mobile app and the web version of the social network. For some people the outage lasted almost and hour, but the issue was resolved by around midday PDT.

The disruption was an unfortunate side effect of some maintenance work being carried out by Twitter, as the company explained:

“During a planned deploy in one of our core services, we experienced unexpected complications that made Twitter unavailable for many users starting at 11:01am. We rolled back the change as soon as we identified the issue and began a controlled recovery to ensure stability of other parts of the service. The site was fully recovered by 11:47am PDT. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

While the outage was scarcely more than three-quarters of an hour, it was still an inconvenience for many, and could have had caused serious problems for some individuals and businesses. With more and more of us using Twitter as the first line of communication, not being able to access the information contained in our tweets, mentions, DMs and more could leave you missing an all important phone number or email address right we need it.

As reliable as social networks are on the whole, there is no getting away from the fact that they do have occasional difficulties and experience periods of downtime. In order to avoid any potential problems caused by such outages, it’s advisable to keep a local copy of your social network content.

SocialSafe allows you to take control of your content by downloading your Facebook messages, tweets, DMs, wall posts and much more to your own library that your own and store. So whatever happens to the originals online, whether they are deleted forever or just become temporarily unavailable, you’ll always be able to access your content if it’s in your SocialSafe library.

Does Big Data Mean A Bigger Target For Hackers?

The bigger data gets, the bigger a temptation it becomes for hackers. US retail giant Target Corporation must be well aware of the irony found in its name, after last week’s attack that now sees the details of around 360 million of its customer accounts available on cyber black markets.

As we create, publish and store more and more types and quantities of information online, the potential for things to go wrong in some capacity or another also increases. In 2012 alone, 160 million people were affected by data leaks, which was 40% up on the previous year. While server failures and human error account for some of the data leaks and losses, 67% of data loss incidents have been the result of hacking attacks.

Data is highly valuable, that much is obvious. The fact that people are a) trying to get hold of it, and b) willing to break the law in some cases to do so only serves to further highlight this issue. But why in that case do so many individuals adopt such a laissez-faire attitude to looking after their own personal data? In a 2013 study, 50% of UK internet users surveyed said that they never back up the content they post to social networks.

More and more information is being collected and stored, with many companies looking to benefit from big data. So there is definitely value to your content. But is the over-eagerness to collate this information and subsequently harvest it actually detrimental to the overall quality of the data and what information can be successfully extracted?

Gordon Harrison, an industry consultant at data analytics specialist SAS said that “Big data is about pushing the needle out of the haystack irrespective of how big the haystack has become or how small the needle is.”

As well as the potential inaccuracies, as more and more personal information is amalgamated together, big data stores will be targeted by hackers more frequently. At SocialSafe we believe big data is wrong… for the individual. Instead of a number of organisations holding mass stores of information about millions upon millions of individuals, why not let the individuals hold all their own information themselves, putting them completely in control of their data?


SocialSafe White Paper: Minimising the Legal Risks of Social Media in Business

These days a wide range of businesses use social media channels to build better relationships with their customers, employees and other stakeholders. From large consumer brands with millions of Facebook fans to niche B2B companies promoting their services through LinkedIn, social media has transformed the world of marketing.

But as businesses rush to take advantage of this new way of talking to their audiences, the risks are often overlooked. We’ve all seen plenty of examples of social media gaffes from businesses as they try to work out the right way to use these channels, but the bigger danger is that they could find themselves falling foul of the law.

Most businesses are aware of how the law, and industry regulations, affect their traditional communications, but understanding how this applies to social media can be tricky. Worse still, some businesses do things in social media that they would never dream of doing in their other channels, such as republishing copyrighted photographs, or sniping at their competitors, because they imagine that the rules no longer apply.

The technology of social media is developing faster than the law can keep up, so it’s easy to understand how many businesses might become a little lax in their approach. But with a little planning and some common sense policies, you can significantly reduce the level of risk your business is exposed to.

To help with this, we’ve produced a white paper, in collaboration with legal and compliance experts, to give businesses a clearer picture of how things currently stand, and what action they can take to minimise risk.

[Click here to download your free copy]

Ellen’s Oscar Tweet Breaks Record, But Also Raises Ownership Questions

This week it’s been hard to avoid all the Oscars buzz following Sunday night’s awards show, and the story that’s been headlining most tech and news outlets is not of a winner or loser, but of a new social media record.

Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres took a selfie with a smorgasbord of winners and nominees at Sunday’s bash, and the picture has now been retweeted well over 3 million times [at the time this blog was written]. This makes it the most retweeted post Twitter has ever seen, easily eclipsing the ~800k retweets Barack Obama’s “Four more years” message has received after winning re-election in 2012.


However, one interesting and not so obvious point that this story brings to light is the issue of ownership over publicly posted and shared content. In this particular case Ellen DeGeneres granted the Associated Press a licence to use the selfie, and it is being reproduced (for the most part) legally on sites other than Twitter. But it’s worth knowing what you do and don’t have ownership rights to when it come to social network posts.

The article Who Owns Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar Selfie? looks at this issue in some detail, and also asks the question of whether or not the person who takes the photo, or the one who posts it first is the content owner. Whatever your position on social content ownership, it’s worth remembering that the social networks themselves are the ones generally holding the aces up their sleeves when it comes to access.

To truly control your content you need to hold it yourself, and have permanent access to it. You never know what might happen to the social network who hold this content on your behalf, so make sure you take control of your data with SocialSafe.

Facebook Expands Relationship Status Options For Ad-Targeting

Facebook has recently made a number of changes to the way businesses can utilise advertising on the social network, increasing the specificity of ad campaigns. One such area that has been tinkered with of late is relationship status types, which has now been expanded to include all of these different options:

  • Single
  • In a relationship
  • Married
  • Engaged
  • Not specified
  • In a civil union
  • In a domestic partnership
  • In an open relationship
  • It’s complicated
  • Separated
  • Divorced
  • Widowed

This was first hinted at back in January when the social network announced that it would sunset Facebook sponsored stories in April, and last month the arrival of ‘core audiences’ within ad-targeting heralded a new level of detail for marketers to apply. This particular level of granularity in terms of relationship status types won’t be helpful for everyone, but for some businesses it could make a real difference to their ad targeting.

Facebook also recently added new gender identity options for individuals, allowing users to give more details about themselves over to Facebook. For the vast majority of us this changed nothing whatsoever on our profiles, but for some people it would have been a significant and welcomed update.

Adding further categories and increasing the options for advertisers does suggest that social networks and ad-targeting in general are getting better and more accurate, but at the same time it’s tacit acknowledgement that each and every one of us is an individual in our own right. There is a whole lot more that make us us than just selecting a series of limited, preset options for a kaleidoscope of criteria…

VIDEO – How To Search All Your Social Networks & Selected Content Types

Those of you who have been with us for a while should hopefully be aware of how the search function works within SocialSafe.  But for all of our new users and for anyone who hasn’t got to grips with it yet, we’ve made a video showing you how to run a general search across all your social networks, and how you’d use the Advanced Search:

As you’ve seen, whether you want to search across all of your networks at once, just search one network at a time, or search within several different types of content from different networks, the Search and Advanced Search function of SocialSafe makes finding what you’re looking for incredibly quick and easy.

Never again will you be left struggling to remember who it was that recommended you go to that particular restaurant, or wading through thousands of your tweets to find the one with the link to that really important article. With SocialSafe and the power of its inbuilt search function, you are in complete control of your content.

Facebook Removing Email Accounts In March

You can now finally kiss goodbye to your email address after the social network announced that it would be shuttering that particular service over the next few weeks.

You’re probably all thinking the same thing right now: Do I have a Facebook email address? Yes, yes you do. These were created back in 2010, and were issued to every user. They were also issued to everyone who signed up after this point, and were linked to your public user ID:

Facebook email addresses

However, they never really caught on, as people quite understandably already had perfectly functioning email addresses, and therefore it would have been a wholly unnecessary transition that would undoubtedly have caused friction. But that didn’t stop Facebook from trying to shoehorn them into our lives…

Back in 2012 Facebook managed to anger a number of users by swapping out whatever other email address they had listed publicly on their profile in favour of the Facebook email address. Despite the backlash, the company stood its ground saying that they’d announced these changes back in April of that year.

However as they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Facebook email accounts never really caught on, and the social network is finally pulling the plug, saying instead that it will focus on improving its mobile messaging experience for everyone.

When the changes go into effect in early March, any emails that were being received by your Facebook email address will now be sent to the primary email address on your account. There will also be an option to turn this forwarding off.

Did you ever use your Facebook email address? What will the impact of this move be? Let us know by leaving a comment below.