Top 10 Social Network Blunders Of 2014 - InformationWeek

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12/26/2014
09:06 AM
Kristin Burnham
Kristin Burnham
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Top 10 Social Network Blunders Of 2014

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites really stepped in it this year. Check out these 10 boneheaded moves that infuriated users.
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Social networks had a big year in 2014: Facebook celebrated its 10th birthday, closed its third billion-dollar acquisition, and renewed its focus on user privacy with a number of updates and changes.

Twitter, though it struggled to meet investors' expectations in the first half of the year, ramped up activity in the second half, launching new analytics, a buy button, and a handful of other improvements set to debut in 2015.

LinkedIn also had its fair share of product launches and site updates. It rolled out a handful of new mobile apps -- including ones for contacts, SlideShare, and job listings -- along with mobile profile and home page redesigns.

But along with this year's milestones and improvements, social media sites stumbled, too. They faced lawsuits, made unpopular decisions, and invaded users' privacy. Take the ephemeral messaging app Snapchat, for example.

This year, Snapchat agreed to settle charges with the Federal Trade Commission following allegations that it made several misrepresentations to consumers about the app's security and privacy.

Snapchat differentiates itself from other messaging services with promises that users' images and videos disappear forever after the sender-designated time period expires. According to the complaint, though, these claims were false. "If a company markets privacy and security as key selling points in pitching its services to consumers, it is critical that it keeps those promises," FTC chairwoman Edith Rameriz said in a press release. "Any company that makes misrepresentations to consumers about its privacy and security practices risks FTC action."

The complaint also alleged that the app tracked and transmitted some users' location information and collected data from their address books without their consent.

Snapchat wasn't issued a monetary penalty, but the FTC will subject it to independent privacy monitoring for the next 20 years. If it violates the terms of the settlement, the company could face penalties of up to $16,000 per violation.

Snapchat wasn't alone in letting users down this year. Facebook's strong-arm approach to its Messenger app sparked controversy, while the social network also angered businesses with its plummeting post reach. Twitter lost user trust after it surreptitiously started tracking the apps used on phones, and LinkedIn landed itself in court over a privacy violation.

Curious about what else made our list? Here's a look at the other top social media disappointments of the year.

Kristin Burnham currently serves as InformationWeek.com's Senior Editor, covering social media, social business, IT leadership and IT careers. Prior to joining InformationWeek in July 2013, she served in a number of roles at CIO magazine and CIO.com, most recently as senior ... View Full Bio

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David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
12/29/2014 | 4:51:25 PM
Latest Facebook screwup
Here's what can happen when you delegate social interaction to robotic scripts:

Facebook apologizes for 'cruel' Year In Review that highlights family tragedy


This was one of those auto-generated slideshows Facebook generates, showing milestones from the past year -- in this case, forcing a father to relive the death of a six-year-old child. The man posted his own analysis in a In a blog post titled "Inadvertent Algorithmic Cruelty."
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2014 | 12:09:33 PM
facebook's failed experiment
They could have gone about that so much better. A simple, hey we're conducting an experiement for our newsfeeds, would you like to join in? spam message where people could have opted in like a beta test would have taken care of any ethical and legality issues. (People must be told not only they are being experimented with but what kind of experiments are being done.)

Companies have to remember that doing things without their customers knowledge is never going to get them to like your product better. Never.

If Facebook were to run an experiment (you know with all the ethical and legal checklists involved checked off), what would want them to run?

 
prospecttoreza
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prospecttoreza,
User Rank: Strategist
12/29/2014 | 8:58:57 AM
Re: How about age?
On the other hand, working with a bunch of 20-something bozos may not have been fun for you either. It may feel like they do not trust your ability to 'understand' tech. But in fact they may, ever subconciosly, have feared a more mature approach to work - more emphasis on system design and testing versus gleefully coming up with new features and color for example.
Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
12/28/2014 | 11:50:28 PM
Re: Facebook's organic reach drops
[email protected], how could FB post reach go any lower? Down to zero? What gets me too is the obsession with social media "experts" on any little way to increase that terribly low reach rate ... such as obsessing about matching FB's exact size preference of a photo.
H@mmy
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[email protected],
User Rank: Ninja
12/28/2014 | 3:34:40 PM
Facebook's app push
Fb wanted to enter in a competition by launching Slingshot but I couldn't figure it why was it left alone. Has Fb already backed out ? are they cooking for something great to come  ?
H@mmy
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[email protected],
User Rank: Ninja
12/28/2014 | 3:26:42 PM
Facebook's organic reach drops
On every other Fb group I could read page owners complaining about low post reach. Much more to worry, Fb is giving another new year gift with much more decrease in post reach.
H@mmy
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[email protected],
User Rank: Ninja
12/28/2014 | 3:17:24 PM
Google+ opens access to Gmail addresses
This meant much more spam. People like me are already pressing that  'Unsubscribe' button in newsletters email. Thankfully this was reverted, else it would have been much more paain.
H@mmy
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[email protected],
User Rank: Ninja
12/28/2014 | 3:13:17 PM
Facebook mood manipulation experiment
At first when I read about the manipulation experiment, I was puzzled and it made me hate Facebook for doing this. I still think this was a very bad move and it raised many questions about Facebook's privacy. Manipulating your newsfeed will not be acceptable to any one, if you ask for it.
H@mmy
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[email protected],
User Rank: Ninja
12/28/2014 | 3:04:35 PM
Facebook Messenger
Facebook even launched a seperate messenger app for desktop. At first it was surprising, why a seperate app when the website supports the chat feature. I got used to the UI of the meesnger desktop app and then Facebook pulled of the desktop messenger app. Wondering why was it launched and then why was it pulled off ?
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
12/28/2014 | 5:55:39 AM
RE: LinkedIn "blocking" feature
Interesting - I never use LinkedIn to communicate with coworkers - I've found it more useful to evaluate job candidates (and other companies when job seeking).  I work for a small companies but draw a pretty solid line between where coworkers/subordinates are and social media sites like Facebook.
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