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I don’t care how jaded you might be when it comes to wildlife, the first time you poke your head out of the window of a vehicle and find yourself staring at four lions only an arms length away, your heart stops.

The Video

Don’t have time for this long article? Here’s our video that says more than all the articles combined.  If you plan to read the article, you might want to save this video for last.

Our trip to Africa was not so much a “bucket list” item, as a longing that had been gnawing at my psyche for decades.  Laura and I are known by all to be animal welfare activists. Together, we have rescued and found homes for over 200 cats, mostly Laura, who also feeds three feral colonies and has had them all neutered to prevent future feline suffering.  My own activities have been more focused on large mammals and their remaining wild habitats, conducting fundraising activities for the Wildlife Conservation Network and Performing Animal Welfare Society, serving those in the wild and those in captivity respectively.

But even with years of activism and lots of exposure to captive wildlife, we did not have a true sense of the creatures or the places we were working so hard to protect. We had to see it, experience it for ourselves and feel it in our souls. So we planned our trip for 2016.

Research for the trip began back in October of 2015, as you would expect employing Google, Trip Advisor and other online tools. I found over 1700 companies offering African safaris, so this was going to be some work.  One of the best tools out there for the comparisons you’d ultimately want to make is called Safari Bookings.  If you know the price range you can afford and the type of safari you want, it filters your options nicely. If you are like us, you probably need more information to make those decisions, so here are some suggestions to help:

  • If you have an affinity for a particular type of animal, culture, or topography, do a search including terms for all of those.
  • If you have a connection with any animal welfare organizations, you should check their websites for recommendations. We particularly recommend World Wildlife Federation as a starting point.  We were looking for the largest diversity and quantity of wildlife on our trip, and the Great Migration of wildebeests was something I wanted to see, so The Serengeti plains had to be on our route (see animated video below)
    .
  • After picking a general destination (East or South Africa is the big decision), think about the kind of experience and accommodation you want to make up your days. I was prepared to sleep in a bag hanging from a tree if necessary, but Laura isn’t quite as adventurous. We decided on staying in developed lodges and what are known as “tented camps,” which offer all the amenities of a hotel, but the walls are made of canvas.
  • Next, you want to see what safari operators are offering the kinds of trips you are seeking, in the areas your are targeting, at the times and prices that work for you. This is where Safari Bookings is a big help.  We suggest narrowing it down to from three to five candidates there, and proceeding to Trip Advisor and wherever you find reliable reviews to check on the companies in your sights.

Let me say this for the people that we worked with: they exceeded our expectations in every way possible. You’ll be reading the specifics further into this article, but I want to call them out now in case you are interested in what we consider the perfect experience.

  1. We chose Tanzania because of the open spaces (no fences enclosing parks), the unaffected nature of the animals (we hear first-hand that animals in Southern parks in countries including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia have become accustomed to people in ways that have made the primates aggressive and the herbivores skittish.  Kind of like here in North America).  And of course those wildebeests migrating.  We also learned that there is a program in place that is helping to evolve the ancient Maasai people into tribes that care for wildlife instead of killing them to protect their livestock.
  2. We chose Tanzania Serengeti Adventure, because they were based right there, responded immediately to email inquiries, were priced well, had good reviews, and offered exactly the trip we were looking for. We subsequently learned that Iris and Jordan, the lovely couple operating the company are committed to some of the same ideals that drove us to make the journey.  I’d go so far as to say these experts can and will go out of their way to make sure you have the experience you are seeking. And I should point out that although it is possible to self-guide your trip in some of these places, you wouldn’t really want to. Chances of getting lost, being preoccupied and missing good sightings, and not fully comprehending the flora, fauna, and humanity are a few of the reasons. Not knowing Swahili is also a challenge. A safari guide is first and foremost a naturalist who helps you identify and understand what you are experiencing.

The Journey

Next came the painful process of shopping for flights. Our priority here was the least amount of transit time, or if not the least, then accommodations to make us comfortable enroute. We chose KLM to get us there, with a very short stop (one hour) in Amsterdam. From there, we flew directly to Kilimanjaro airport, the closest international airport to our starting base, the town of Arusha. For the return flight, it was Emirates Air, partially because of their impeccable reputation, partly because I was curious to see Dubai.  A 10-hour layover meant the airline would pay for our hotel, so why not?

As a cautionary note, be prepared for significant costs in time, money, and effort prior to your trip for considerations that are not part of most travel these days. Back in January, I shipped off our passports to the Tanzanian Embassy in Washington DC, where they provided our visas ($100 each) and had the passports back to us in just three days!  We could have done like most and just paid the fee and gotten the visa onsite after landing, but why take a chance of running into a problem there, and possibly saving time at immigration?

And if you are traveling to East Africa from the US or Europe, you’ll want to have a battery of vaccinations, as there are some serious diseases still prevalent in these places for which the vaccinations are actually effective.  But they are not generally covered by insurance, so we were out-of-pocket about $500 each with the mandatory yellow fever, hepatitis A&B,  typhoid vaxs, plus oral meds to be taken for two months to prevent malaria. The whole process took several visits to our primary care physician plus a special appointment with the local travel clinic (only available one day a month in our little town) over a period of three months.

As the date of our travel approached, the frequency of communication with Iris and Jordan increased. They were quite proactive in preparing us for what we needed to do and to bring with us, including an hour-long Skype orientation call that made us feel very good about trusting ourselves to the care of them and their company during this adventure. The text of our “Final Bulletin” showing how we were to prepare for the trip can be read here. By the time our departure date came, we were really ready for a break.

We left SFO at around 1pm on Saturday, June 5, and after over 20 hours in total transit time, crossing 10 time zones, we landed at Kilimanjaro Airport in Northern Tanzania at 7pm Sunday the 6th. We were met promptly by our driver and hustled off to Green Mountain Hotel, nothing to write about there.  Nighty night.

Early the next day we were picked up by our driver, Philimon, who took us to the office of Tanzania Serengeti Adventures where we met with the owners of the company Iris and Jordan and received our vouchers for the in-country transfers we’d be using once our safari was done.  Then it was off to Arusha National Park. Within the first five minutes in the park, we spotted 15 elephants and over a dozen zebra, a family of warthogs, Egyptian geese, and more. By the end of our first day there, we had also seen baboons, crested eagles, colobus monkeys, giraffes, water bucks, bush bucks, cape buffalo, mountain dulker, and banded mongoose.  Sighting highlight of the day: an albino baboon.  I watched in wonder as she foraged for food alone and sauntered off, shunned by her tribe for being different. Can anyone reading this relate? A full list of our wildlife sightings for the trip can be seen here.

Our second day in the field was eventful, in that we lost Philimon as our guide (he was called away on family business) but had the great privilege of getting Christopher Samwel in his place. Christopher really knows the terrain and the creatures well and had a great eye for helping us make sightings.He has his own company called “I Dream of Africa” who provide many of same or similar the traveler services to Jordan and Iris at “Tanzania Serengeti Adventure.” We got lucky to have the benefit of both looking out for us.  If you are planning on following in our footsteps, we highly recommend you contact both of these companies in your planning phase.

That first day, Christopher took us to Lake Manyara, another park without fences where wildlife abounds. Wow did it. We literally rolled through the water, sighting hundreds of animals, including buffalo and hippos with birds hitching rides on their backs, baboons playing with termite mounds, and our first sighting of a male African Lion.  Had to stop several times to let elephants cross our path. A stunning place  with very different topography from most of the savannah we spent our time upon.  The highlight of the day for me was a small spectacle put on by a mama bird protecting her nest from a large monitor lizard.The lizard could have easily overpowered this bird, but by spreading its wings and taking a powerful stance, mama saved her chicks (or eggs, we didn’t see the nest).

Accommodations that night were at Tanzania Ric Lodge, a small, private, eco-friendly developed facility on the grounds of a coffee plantation (no pun intended).  These were not our favorite accommodations, but they were strategically located between several of our wildlife destinations. Rosie was a great cook and made all our meals, including the healthy box lunches we took with us into the field.  If you end up staying here, just know that the incredibly bumpy ride on a steep rutted dirt road to get here is worth it in the long-run.

Day four was our day to experience a different kind of life: human. We went to a place called Lake Eyasi, where we saw a kind of poverty that is beyond my descriptive abilities.  We visited two tribes of Hadzabe bushmen: one that were ostensibly hunters, another blacksmiths.  While I had the feeling that we were witnessing staged displays, there is no doubt that people lived in the manner we observed, perhaps at another time. What it was we observed was a hunt, where eight or nine of the tribe’s young men took us with them to demonstrate their skills with the bow. Several decent sized birds were lucky enough to escape the arrows, but one did not. We were then witness to the creation of fire without matches or anything but an arrowhead and a knife.  That was impressive. This was the fire on which they immediately roasted and sliced the little bird, which they then offered to us, their guests.  Laura did not, but I did. It tasted great, but I returned to my vegetarian regime immediately after.

Next we visited another tribe, supposedly the ones who make the arrowheads and jewelry worn by the first tribe. Here Laura ground corn meal like Sacagawea, and I was the focus of attention from a young boy who could not keep his eyes or hands off my gizmos. Makes me think we guys are hard-wired to be fascinated by technology. He liked my watch, my camera, and had to wear my glasses.  I would have let him keep them, but it would have been a violation of the prime directive. I bought Laura a couple of bracelets and donated cash to the tribe.

While we had discovered that wildlife in Tanzania is plentiful, we would have to be very lucky to spot one of the twelve remaining black rhinos that live within Ngorogoro Crater, our destination on Day 5. This place is reputed to be the most densely populated of all the wildlife areas we were to visit. It’s described this way:

“The jewel in Ngorongoro’s crown is a deep, volcanic crater, the largest unflooded and unbroken caldera in the world. About 20kms across, 600 meters deep and 300 sq kms in area, the Ngorongoro Crater is a breathtaking natural wonder.”

It was definitely breathtaking in every respect, from the 2,000 foot descent from the rim to the floor, to the countless arrays of animals we saw there. Right in our faces.  Hyenas running around with kill in their mouths, lions sunning themselves on a rock, jackals hunting for smaller prey. And of course lions, buffalo, wildebeest, incredible bird plumage and more. Unfortunately, no rhino sighting. But we did see hyenas having a mating session and I learned that the jackal is a truly gorgeous animal. The pix just above stand as evidence.

Our accommodations that night were at the Rhino Lodge, nice middle-grade facility located on the rim of the crater. Warning: if you think a safari in June is strictly a warm weather deal, you’re dead wrong. At Rhino Lodge (elevation 6000 ft), it was around 45 degrees F at night. We had to light a fire in our room and that didn’t even keep us warm.

Day 7 of our journey included the six-hour drive from Rhino Lodge to the center of the Serengeti. It was during this drive that we got a sense of how the animals freely move from park to park and between regions as they wish, without interference from you-know-whom. This long dusty journey included passage by Maasai villages, herds of buffalo, and giraffes blithely browsing the native vegetation.

Once within Serengeti National Park, we expected to see wildlife like we had the past several days, but surprisingly, it was a dry spell in our sightings. Very few animals showed themselves today, with the notable exception of a leopard taking a snooze in one of those weird-looking sausage trees.  When would we arrive at our tented camp, the Kubu Kubu?  It seemed we had been on the road forever. Making it less comfortable as we approached our camp were the rampant fires we had to endure, with smoke filling our lungs and our eyes and visibility reduced to almost zero. We were told these fires are set intentionally by the rangers, but I doubt they actually do what they are intended to (reduce fuel and control wildfire?) Once again it is our species messing with natural balance.

By the way, this Kubu Kubu place is notable. It had just opened a week before we arrived and it was totally decked out. Our room was the size of two normal hotel rooms, had a sweeping view of the entire central Serengeti, a great pool, the best food we had on the trip, and OMG the service!  You should stay here!

The rest of our stay (three more days) in the Serengeti were full of animal sightings that would impress anyone. Those Maasai Kopjes (rocky outcroppings) were like islands in the savannah, home to all kinds of life, especially big cats who use the shade to cool themselves and the warm rocks for the opposite effect. When we first saw two momma lions and two cubs just walking alongside our vehicle, we almost peed our pants.

Our trip included the company of the lovely Vicki Davidoff, a South African expat currently residing in Vancouver, BC.  She was traveling alone and our safari company put her in with us. She was great company and since the vehicle was made to handle seven people, the three of us were quite comfortable during the trip. Vicki’s itinerary had her leaving a day earlier than us, so we dropped her off at the local airstrip and we were off to the far Western reaches of the park because I insisted that we see the wildebeest migration, who were over there at this time. More lions too.

Now we had seen lots of wildebeests (sometimes called gnus) in small herds and family groups, but I have read that the “great migration” as it is known here, is a spectacle not to be missed. That turned out to be correct, as you can tell somewhat from our video (at the top of this page). Hundreds of thousands of them were seen together at the Grumeti River, making that distinctive grunting sound, young males locking horns to fight over the females, crocodiles lying in wait to feast on the little ones that sometimes straggle behind the group. All pretty exciting stuff for Laura and me.

Our poptop land cruiser was a perfect vehicle for this trip, allowing enclosure for the long trips on paved roads, then opening up for wildlife viewing in the parks. We had to say goodbye to our terrific guide and naturalist, Christopher the next day as we prepared to fly to Zanzibar to relax a few days before heading home.

Flying on these little puddle jumpers may not be very comfortable, but you sure get a great view. I got to look over the pilot’s shoulder the whole 2.5 hour flight.  Coming into Zanzibar, I realized I had never seen the Indian Ocean.  Looks pretty good from here.

Our accommodations were at  5-start resort called Dream of Zanzibar. By now my own dreams were getting somewhat messed up. I mean the driver picked us up promptly at the airport and drove us through some of the most crowded, squalid living situations you will ever see, and dropped us conveniently at this gated, all-inclusive hotspot with nine restaurants, bars, pools, private beach, and all the food and booze you can consume.  Something clearly bothered me about all of this, but I had to admit, after the exciting week we had just finished, this was a welcome change in many ways.

We didn’t stay behind the walls very long. The next day we took a walking tour of Stone Town, a kind of city within the city of Zanzibar, which itself is a kind of country within the country of Tanzania.  Here we got a multi-sensory experience of Zanzibar history and culture, featuring colonialism, religious conquests, and a slave market, not to mention many domiciles once supposedly inhabited by sultans and concubines.  Bought some souvenirs for the family. Took pictures of cats.  Small ones, mostly.  Point of interest: the “Mercury House” is purported to be the childhood home of Freddie Mercury, the deceased singer of the band Queen, who was born and raised here.

Meanwhile, back at our resort, the tourists are enjoying another carefree day, far from the troubles of ignorance, exploitation and poverty. That’s because the resort didn’t hire many locals. After all, the locals were too uneducated and unsophisticated to serve the international clientele at this posh plaza. Yech.

So the next day we headed off for Chumbe Island, a coral reef park and one of National Geographic’s top eco-lodge destinations.  This is a place you’d like to be stranded for a long time with someone you love. We only had the day, but that day was full of exploration, hiking, climbing the stairs of a lighthouse, and enjoying the delightful accommodations of a thatched bungalow on the water that was ours for the day. The video just above isn’t ours (although we have great photos of this spot), but does a fine job of selling it. Never have we seen the diversity of coral and sea life that was present here in any of the places we’ve been snorkeling around the world. It’s a real find.

Home that night to wonderland for another delight they had cooked up for tourists, a display of food and entertainment meant to represent native culture. Whatever it was, it became our farewell celebration to the island and the continent. Last few minutes of the video at the top of the page show a slice of it. Cute, though not really necessary after all we had experienced. It had been glorious.

The trip home was mostly uneventful. We had a 10-hour layover in Dubai that allowed us to see a little of a very polluted city. The air looked like Los Angeles in 1975. The accommodations were so-so at Arabian Park Hotel. My recommendation: if you aren’t traveling to or from Africa, skip this place.

Many many people have asked us to share stories of this journey since we’ve been home, seeming to want to hear how we were impacted by what we did and saw. What did we learn? All travel gives you a kind of perspective of life from comparisons to what you already know. Yet our visit to Africa exceeded our expectations by so much, that I know neither of us will have the same outlook on nature and our place in it. Or for that matter, the British Empire, and its impact on this entire planet. Ironically, the “brexit” vote happened just after our return.  Only the British could conquer and colonize half the world, then vote to leave the EU to avoid “immigration!”

I’m a fan of poet/rapper Prince Ea, who recently released the video above. It is pretty close to saying the exact words I’d offer, if I had his skills. Worth five minutes of your time to hear it, I’d say.

I read something else recently that felt resonant within me and I want to share it as something that sums up not my experience, but my resolve for the future. It warned me not to engage in:

  • money worship
  • celebrity worship
  • seven point plans
  • ten point plans
  • right wing duplicity
  • left-wing sanctimoniousness
  • complacent centerism
  • spiritual doubletalk
  • arrogance
  • boring pursuits
  • cynicism
  • …and did I mention cynicism?

I can live with that. Instead, I choose hope.  I choose to pay attention to the balance in the universe and my place in that balance, and I resolve to live in a way that expresses my deep gratitude for the gifts bestowed upon me, like life, Laura, our family and friends. Blessings to you all.

Our Complete Africa Photo Album

Our Multi-Year Photo Archive

Comments Off on Internet Freedom Day: January 18

Internet Freedom Day: January 18

It’s been over a decade now since I wrote the first book from the Electonic Frontier Foundation about safety, freedom, and privacy on the Internet. Since then, much has changed, and much has remained the same. The changes have included a huge number of people coming online from all parts of the world and creating the majority of the content online (instead of just webmasters doing it). What remains the same is the constant threat to the value of this amazing resource by well-meaning (and sometimes not-so-well-meaning) people who would attempt to censor or limit the access or freedom of expression that takes place here.

I saw a post from old friend and collaborator, Craig Newmark (the Craigslist guy) asking that everyone post somewhere the answer to the question, “How does the Internet give you a voice?” He’s planning on doing something special with the posts he collects on January 18th, Internet Freedom Day.

Here goes mine: I have been fortunate to have had a voice in print for many years as an author of magazine columns and books.  Even for a published author, the Internet lowered the bar for me to be able to express myself how I wanted, when I wanted, and most importantly, to WHOM I wanted because it is a one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many medium all at the same time.  It’s like nothing else in human history, and we have still only scratched the surface of what we can do with this tool.

That’s why I remain concerned that special interest (of the corporate kind) will be able to lobby lawmakers and get laws passed that favor big companies over individual users.  I’m still concerned that regulation for supposed security concerns turns this global public square into a channel for so-called “approved use” only. And I remain vigilant that the Net remain open to all and free of unneeded regulation to assure that innovators have the opportunity to extend the capabilities and penetration of Internet use everywhere.

Now, that all said, I’d like to call your attention to Craig’s campaign in support of a new law that will actually protect the freedoms I’ve been talking about.  Ironically carrying the same initials as a law that would have done the exact opposite if passed back in 1998 (but we beat it down!), CDA 230 will codify the values of freedom and equality that most of us cherish online.  The graphic below tells you more.

Craig said:
We take things for granted, like the vitality and freedom offered by the Internet. The Net potentially gives everyone a voice. However, it’s not available to everyone, and that freedom must be asserted and sometimes fought for to keep it.

Internet Freedom Day reminds us that we all need to work together to preserve what we have and to help everyone realize their own individual voice. It’s something which we assert frequently, not just one day, but it’s one way to remind ourselves that what we take for granted can be lost.

To give a voice to voiceless, my team and I work to get serious network connectivity where it’s a challenge. Specifically, we work with Inveneo.org, a team which is really good at getting the Internet in difficult circumstances. For example, we’ve supported them in Haiti, the West Bank, and Kenya.

To help protect what we have in the US, we help preserve one of the laws which preserve freedom of speech. That’s section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Now and then, bad politicians attack it, but it’s a strong protection against those who would suppress stuff that they just don’t like. It’s being able to voice stuff like this that let’s me know the Internet really does give me a voice. We’ve worked with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to better explain CDA 230, so please check out this infographic:

Comments Off on Twitter Use and Your Career

Twitter Use and Your Career

by Anita Brady

How Some Pro Athletes’ Mistakes Provide Important Lessons for Those in the Business World

Social networking sites like Twitter can be useful resources in the search to find a job. However, once you secure a position, the information you share online can become a liability. The experience of several high profile professional athletes illustrates that point. Below are six tips to ensure that your Twitter use doesn’t negatively impact your career.

  1. Don’t Tweet About Inappropriate Topics 

    Certain topics like religion and politics often hit a nerve with people, so tweeting your strong opinions about these issues could lead to controversy. That’s particularly true if your opinions may offend or alienate some of your coworkers or superiors, or even your clients. Other sensitive subjects, including off-color or tasteless remarks, should also be avoided. Houston Texan Kareem Jackson learned that the hard way. Jackson proudly posted photos on Twitter documenting his attendance at a cockfighting match in the Dominican Republic. Animal lovers were enraged, and it seriously damaged his reputation. Jackson would now probably agree that before tweeting about an issue, it’s prudent to consider who you might offend and how it might impact your job and professional reputation.

     

  2. Don’t Tweet about Your Superiors 

    When using Twitter, it may be helpful to adhere to the old adage “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Complaints about a specific person, when expressed on the internet, are likely to make their way to the target of the grievance. Therefore, broadcasting criticism of your boss can land you in hot water. No one knows about that better than NFL player Larry Johnson, who publicly insulted his coach via Twitter. The stunt eventually cost Johnson his job.

     

  3. Don’t Tweet about Your Working Conditions 

    Just as tweeting about a specific person could jeopardize your career, publicly criticizing the conditions in the office can lead to trouble. Although discussing (and even complaining about) one’s working conditions may be protected under federal labor laws, publicly exposing your gripes about your work is not a good career move. In 2009, San Diego Chargers’ cornerback Antonio Cromartie blasted his team for serving “nasty food” at its training camp. If the criticism had been delivered privately to management it may have been considered constructively. However, Cromartie decided to express his frustrations via Twitter, which led to embarrassment for the team and a fine for Cromartie.

     

  4. Don’t Engage in a Twitter Fight 

    If you’re the subject of public criticism, responding on Twitter in an aggressive manner can lead to a prolonged exchange of embarrassing attacks that appear petty and childish. Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings found himself in a Twitter war of words with someone posing as Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Farmar. The jabs going back and forth made Jennings look foolish, especially when it was revealed that the real Jordan Farmar wasn’t actually involved in the argument. The better approach is to pick your battles. If the initial attack contains false information that could damage your reputation, responding to correct the inaccuracies is appropriate if done in a professional manner. However, if the criticism doesn’t seem credible on its face, the best policy is to ignore it.

     

  5. Don’t Air Your Dirty Laundry on Twitter 

    Good things seldom come from voluntarily publicly revealing the intimate details of our private lives or our personal problems. Case in point: NFL player Jabar Gaffney. The fallout was fast and harsh when Gaffney tweeted hurtful things about his wife, his cousin, and another NFL player. Although Gaffney later claimed that his account had been hacked, the damage was done. Quite simply, broadcasting personal information makes people vulnerable to criticism and ridicule. Instead, when sharing personal information via Twitter or any other social networking platform, it’s best to keep it simple and refrain from revealing too much.

     

  6. Don’t Tweet at Work 

    Companies don’t pay employees to play around on the internet. Therefore, many employers impose strict policies prohibiting use of social networking sites while on the job. The NFL enacted a similar rule, which New England Patriot Chad Ochocinco violated by tweeting during a game. The result was a $25,000.00 fine. In the business world, employers are monitoring internet usage more and more, so employees should save the tweets until after clocking out.

Anita Brady is the President of 123Print.com.

Editor’s Note: The advice above for Twitter applies to other social media as well. In today’s environment, it’s best to keep your privacy settings high in all media where you reveal personal information, and even better for your job prospects if you have nothing available but contact info and a CV for prospective employers.

Comments Off on Top 5 Scams to Beware of With Social Media

Top 5 Scams to Beware of With Social Media

Original posted on Norton Security
(c) Studio One Networks

We’re wired to be social creatures, and sites like Twitter and Facebook have capitalized on this to great success. According to its COO Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook draws 175 million logins every day.

But with this tremendous popularity comes a dark side as well. Virus writers and other cybercriminals go where the numbers are — and that includes popular social media sites. To help you avoid a con or viral infection, we’ve put together this list of the top five social media scams.

5. Chain Letters

You’ve likely seen this one before — the dreaded chain letter has returned. It may appear in the form of, “Retweet this and Bill Gates will donate $5 million to charity!” But hold on, let’s think about this. Bill Gates already does a lot for charity. Why would he wait for something like this to take action? Answer: He wouldn’t. Both the cause and claim are fake.

So why would someone post this? Good question. It could be some prankster looking for a laugh, or a spammer needing “friends” to hit up later. Many well-meaning people pass these fake claims onto others. Break the chain and inform them of the likely ruse.

4. Cash Grabs

By their very nature, social media sites make it easy for us to stay in touch with friends, while reaching out to meet new ones. But how well do you really know these new acquaintances? That person with the attractive profile picture who just friended you — and suddenly needs money — is probably some cybercriminal looking for easy cash. Think twice before acting. In fact, the same advice applies even if you know the person.

Picture this: You just received an urgent request from one of your real friends who “lost his wallet on vacation and needs some cash to get home.” So, being the helpful person you are, you send some money right away, per his instructions. But there’s a problem: Your friend never sent this request. In fact, he isn’t even aware of it. His malware-infected computer grabbed all of his contacts and forwarded the bogus email to everyone, waiting to see who would bite.

Again, think before acting. Call your friend. Inform him of the request and see if it’s true. Next, make sure your computer isn’t infected as well.

3. Hidden Charges

“What type of STAR WARS character are you? Find out with our quiz! All of your friends have taken it!” Hmm, this sounds interesting, so you enter your info and cell number, as instructed. After a few minutes, a text turns up. It turns out you’re more Yoda than Darth Vader. Well, that’s interesting … but not as much as your next month’s cell bill will be. You’ve also just unwittingly subscribed to some dubious service that charges $9.95 every month.

As it turns out, that “free, fun service” is neither. Be wary of these bait-and-switch games. They tend to thrive on social sites.

Read the full article for all 5 social media scams…

Comments Off on HuffPost Debate: Should Elephants Be Banned in Circuses?

HuffPost Debate: Should Elephants Be Banned in Circuses?

Comments Off on Circus PAWS is headed for Hollywood!

Circus PAWS is headed for Hollywood!

We’re extremely proud and excited about the show and so is our spokesman, Bob Barker!

Comments Off on A Grad Student’s View of Facebook’s Outlook

A Grad Student’s View of Facebook’s Outlook

We’re keenly interested in insights to the various social media platforms as marketing venues. We’ve often written about the upsides and down of them here. We were recently contacted by the creator of the graphic below which tells an enlightening story about the social media giant and her view on how that might play out over time.  The story this graphic tells also contains info about Google and other companies in the social media mix. We thought it was worth sharing with you.

-BG

Facebook: Programmed for Disaster
Created by: www.OnlineGraduatePrograms.com

Comments Off on Facebook estimates 8.7% of users are duplicate, miscategorized or spam accounts

Facebook estimates 8.7% of users are duplicate, miscategorized or spam accounts

Facebook says 8.7 percent of its monthly active user total might violate terms of service and be either duplicate, miscategorized or “undesirable” accounts meant for spamming, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In its quarterly report, Facebook provided updated numbers and new details about illegitimate accounts, which could represent about 83 million users. The company estimates 4.8 percent of its 955 million monthly active users are duplicate accounts. For instance, a user may use one account for connecting with work acquaintances and another for family and close friends.

Facebook says 2.4 percent of accounts are likely miscategorized accounts where users have created personal profiles for a business, organization or pet. These entities should be represented on Facebook with pages, not profiles, according to the social network’s terms of service.

Facebook also estimates that 1.5 percent of monthly active users are “undesirable accounts,” which are false accounts that are created for spamming or other purposes that violate terms. Earlier this week, a music startup claimed that 80 percent of clicks on its Facebook ad campaign came from bots. Facebook says it is investigating the claims.

Read more at Inside Facebook…

Comments Off on Improvements Make Linked-In a Better Experience

Improvements Make Linked-In a Better Experience

Users can now add comments and “likes” to articles on LinkedIn Today. And the new “Trending in Your Network” tab filters all of the professional news articles on LinkedIn Today and gives you the most popular ones in your professional network.

LinkedIn has also “started to roll out a simpler and easier way to navigate Homepage experience that offers quick access to the relevant information and updates that help you be great at your job.”

Commenting & Liking: Sometimes the commentary about a news article can be just as insightful as the article itself. To that end, articles on LinkedIn Today will now include social gestures which will enable our 161 million member professionals to engage and create a dialogue around the news headlines that matter most to them, as well as learn what is currently trending online. This means, members will be able to see a snapshot of what’s top of mind among their professional networks.

Trending in Your Network: LinkedIn Today was built on the premise of providing a relevant, customizable news experience based on key news and updates trending in your industry and the other industries you choose to follow.  Starting today, we will begin rolling a new tab called “Trending in Your Network.”  By simply clicking on this tab, members will have yet another filter to sort through all of the professional news articles and industry updates, based on those articles that are currently the most popular among members of their professional networks, regardless of their industry.

These two new features, together with the existing customizable news feed, allow members to not only narrow down the most timely and relevant information needed when needed, but to also gather valuable insights about other like-minded individuals within their professional networks and beyond.

Full details on the Linked-In Blog…

Comments Off on Washington State To Allow Voter Registration Through Facebook

Washington State To Allow Voter Registration Through Facebook

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Facebook users in Washington state will have something else to brag about to their online friends: that they registered to vote on Facebook.

The secretary of state’s office said Tuesday it will have an application on its Facebook page that allows residents to register to vote and then “like” the application and recommend it to their friends. It’s expected to launch as early as next week.

“In this age of social media and more people going online for services, this is a natural way to introduce people to online registration and leverage the power of friends on Facebook to get more people registered,” said Shane Hamlin, co-director of elections.

Washington state has had online registration since 2008, and since then, there have been 475,000 registrations or changes of address processed through the system. Washington is one of more than a dozen states that offer online registration.

Hamlin said Washington state is the first to offer voter registration via Facebook.

“We are excited that citizens in Washington state will be able to register to vote and review useful voting information on Facebook,” said Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes.

The state, Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp., which developed the application, have been collaborating on the project since last fall, Hamlin said.

Once it’s live, Facebook users can click on the application within the secretary of state’s Facebook page. They’ll need to agree to let Facebook access their information, which will be used to prefill their name and date of birth in the voter registration form. Users will still need to provide a driver’s license or state ID card number to continue.

Hamlin said that Facebook doesn’t have access to the state’s database; its page just overlays the application. Voters will also be able to access the state’s “My Vote” site with specific information on candidates and ballot measures.

Read the full article on Huffington Post…