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26 girls saved from exploitation by Twitter

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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The media is quick to publish reports about the "evils" of social media. Twitter is a favourite whipping target.

Here is a little-told story about 26 young girls (aged 10-14) being saved from the clutches of human traffickers in India because of a simple tweet.  Adarsh Shrivastava, a good samaritan, travelling on an Indian train noticed a group of young girls that seemed to be in distress. He twitted the train operator which was the start of their rescue. 

A representative from the Ministry of Railways forwarded a support request to the railway police. 

Shortly after being notified, the railway police intervened and rescued the girls. Two men were arrested. 

Source: NDTV

Best URL shorteners

GeneralEdward Kiledjian4 Comments
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URL shorteners are something you either use a lot or never. Google launched it's own URL shortening service in 2009 with unique (at the time) features like third-party API access, QR code generation, ability to use easily on mobile. 

But Google is retiring this public facing service and replacing it with Firebase Dynamic Links (FDL) accessible by developers only. 

This is not surprising since Twitter retired Deck.ly when it acquired TweetDeck.

If you have links, Google is giving you until March 30, 2019, to figure out what you are going to do (even though you will lose the ability to create new short links on April 13). 

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What are the best Goo.gl alternatives?

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1 - Bit.ly

The first alternative has to be Bit.ly which is one of the most popular URL shortening services on the internet and one of the oldest. You create an account and then generate short links as required (you can also choose a tag to group your URL). 

Bitly allows you to create custom branded short URLs, which is excellent for marketing. 

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2 - Ow.ly

Hootsuite runs a service called Ow.ly. Ow.ly offers all of the features of Bit.ly but integrates with HootSuite. So if you use Hootsuite to manage your social media presence, this could be the best option for you.

The big difference is that Bit.ly allows you to quickly shorten a link from their main webpage without having to sign-up whereas Ow.ly does not.

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3 - rebrandly.com

Many lists include Firebase from Google but I am omitting it since it is only designed for use by developers in apps (not useful for the average Joe). My last recommendation is Rebrandly.com which offers custom URL shorteners. Many large cloud companies are Rebrandly customers (such as Microsoft, Dropbox, etc).

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Before you get scared and look away, they offer a free tier that will meet the needs of most users.

Conclusion

A URL shortener is a service that you will rely on for years, and I have presented the companies (services) that look to be the most stable. Remeber that when the service disappears's your links break which could wreak havoc on your social strategy.

How to find how many Twitter fake followers you have

technologyEdward KiledjianComment
Image by  Patrik Nygren  used under Creative Commons License

Image by Patrik Nygren used under Creative Commons License

When web placement was paid per click or per view, Twitter importance was measured by the number of followers you had. Those days are long gone because modern tech savvy social media users understand that engagement is the ultimate measure.

In some cases, people bought Twitter followers to make themselves look  better but there are times when those fake followers are added by bots. Why? Because many people automatically follow back all of their followers and these SPAM accounts get a decent following quickly.

Fakers App

The first tool is an online service called the Fakers App.  This app allows you to identify how many fake or empty accounts follow you. Better yet, they can perform this same magic on competitors or service providers trying to sell you on their HUGE social media following.

Head over to the webpage (link)

Click on the Connect to Twitter button

Authorize the app to connect to your twitter account. Then let it do its magic

In my case only 3% of my followers are fake. 46% are inactive which isn't surprising knowing how most registered Twitter users rarely tweet. You can use the search box to check this info for someone else

TwitterAudit

TwitterAudit (link)  is another interesting tool that takes a 5,000 follower sample from your account and then creates a follower value score by looking at the ratio of followers to following, number of tweets, date of last tweet, etc.

It creates some interesting graphs:

Conclusion

You'll notice that the stats provided by each site aren't perfectly aligned but they are close. The Inactive status of the Fakers App isn't too valuable for me considering most people sign up and spend most of their time on twitter lurking. 

Ultimately less than 3% (in both cases) of my followers are fake. What about you?

 

Travel Tip : Use Social Media to plan a better trip

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment

Social Media sites are useful for more than watching cat videos. The truth is your social contacts can provide insightful information that can help you plan a better vacation or trip. Post a status update requesting tips for a specific location or for a good vacation spot. Engage with respondents about what they liked and what they would do differently. Find hidden gems or that extra special restaurant. These are your contacts so their recommendations should be better aligned with your likes and dislikes.

Security Warning: I have to add a note about being careful about how much info you share on these social networks. It's a great idea to ask for tips, tricks and recommendations but don't post messages about when you will be gone, unless you want your house broken into. Thieves are often looking for status messages indicating travel. Also make sure your posts about travel are only shown to a limited group of people (in Facebook make sure it is only available to friends or a specific user list).

Rapportive adds social intelligence to GMAIL for free

technologyEdward KiledjianComment

Rapportive (link) is a free Firefox, Safari and Chrome add-on that brings social intelligence to GMAIL. For every email sender, it displays a picture, a brief bio,  location and links to that their social networks. 

Yes it does work with Google Apps accounts.

It replaces the (less useful) GMAIL advertisements with its own information. Another company called Xobni has a similar tool for Outlook. Installation took only a couple of minutes and then it automatically performs its magic anytime you use the GMAIL web interface. 

There is some debate about where the service get's it's information from. Some have claimed it comes from a service called Rapleaf, others claim it is an in-house culling service. All we know is that the company provides this blurb:

"We combine information from several sources; at the moment, these are Academia.edu, AngelList, Bitbucket, CrunchBase, Econsultancy, Facebook, Flickr, GitHub, Google Profiles, Gravatar, LinkedIn, Plancast, Posterous, Stack Overflow, Tungle.me, Twitter and Vimeo, as well as thousands of organisations' public websites. " (link)

In my testing, some contacts come jam packed with useful information and others get wrong or missing info. Overall I think this is a great way to gleam additional  information which can make the difference between winning or losing. 

Give it a try. It's free