Jan 20 2010

Facebook and groups

On Facebook we have profiles, groups and fan pages. Profiles are only for real persons while fan pages are for artists, companies or brands. Then we have the groups which are for everything else, more or less. There are tons of groups at Facebook and most of them are categorized as “just for fun” and are totally pointless.

Most of these pointless groups in swedish also start with “vi som…”, for example “vi som älskar Ben&Jerry’s glass” (we, who love Ben&Jerry’s ice cream). I am very restrictive to groups in general and I rarely join them because I want to keep my Facebook profile somewhat serious, even if it’s not super deadly serious. I have also always had my account set up so that the list of groups I am member of doesn’t show up on my profile page for anyone else than myself. But I can still understand people who use Facebook just for fun and join groups with funny names like “I Dont care How Comfortable Crocs Are, You Look Like A Dumbass” for example.

Although lately a new reason to not join silly groups you don’t know the founder of have been revealed.  Last weeks (at least in Sweden) there have been a lot of trolling among the groups at Facebook. Someone start a group with a name good enough to gather a lot of unsuspecting people, after a while they change the name of the group to something uncomfortable. This Facebook scamming really went over the limit this week when it started to exploit the victims of the disaster-stricken island of Haiti. First, a group called “Vi som ska göra 2010 till det bästa året någonsin” (we who will make year 2010 the best year ever), which had existed since before the earthquake, changed name to “200.000 jobs available on Haiti”. Then a group called “2 SEK per member to the disiaster-stricken people on Haiti” which had got over 200.000 members changed its picture and wrote the the sponsor was from the swedish necrophiliac association who wanted the dead bodies. I won’t go further on with how disgusting and tasteless this is, because there are already a lot of people who have blogged about it and there is not much more to say, we all agree on that it is sick and idiocy.

What I want to emphasize though, is that I think that you should think twice before you join a Facebook group. Maybe you need to ask yourself “why am I doing this?” before you click the “join button” that so easily is clicked without further consideration. Maybe you should check once or twice who the founder of the group is and think about if you trust him or her. There are also groups which suddenly appear without a group administrator, if for example the administrator has deactivated his/her account, then anyone can take over the group and change its name.

Yesterday I left the few groups I was a member of which wasn’t created by me or any of my friends. And my advice to you is, at least check through the list of groups you are a member of, ask yourself why you are a member and make a double check of the profiles behind groups. And be careful out there soldiers, after all, there are people who do not wish everyone well.

Nov 30 2009

The storm about Urban Outfitters

Important Update 2009-12-01: Urbanoutfitters.se was never hacked. The guy who took control over the site has been the owner of the domain name for several years. Anything illegal has therefore never happened.

It has been some tough days for the Fashion store Urban Outfitters during the weekend but it has been even tougher days for the employees. But thanks to the Internet and social media the fight is on.

Three days ago I read at Habit.se that the fashion store Urban Outfitters is terminating all its staff in Stockholm after they requested a collective agreement. Of course I thought Urban Outfitters treats their staff badly but I didn’t think much more about it at that point. And since I had a weekend without a computer in front of me I kind of missed the upcoming storm. Yesterday, on the train back home I read the Twitter feed on my cellphone and understood that urbanoutfitters.se was hacked since Saturday afternoon. When I came home I realized that the page was a search generated twitter feed on the keywords urbanoutfitters.se and #urbanoutfitters_se. Most of the tweets were from people stating they were going to boycott Urban Outfitters or wishing them a bad Christmas sales. Badly enough I didn’t take a screenshot of it, something I really regret today and this morning Urban Outfitters had control over their site again (it took a pretty long time in my opinion). Nikke Lindqvist took a screenshot with his iPhone though, at the Saturday when the page pointed to the new Facebook group.

Urbanoutfitters.se looked like this during the saturday. Screenshot by Nikke Lindqvist.

Urbanoutfitters.se looked like this during the saturday.Screenshot by Nikke Lindqvist.

As I wrote above there was a new group at Facebook called Shame on you Urban Outfitters. At the moment the group has 8.420 members and it’s steadily increasing. Together the group members are gathering facts and links to articles about the situation and spreading the word all over Facebook. There is also a petition started at namninsamling.se which at the moment has got 680 signatures and the articles at Aftonbladet Debatt have totally got over 300 comments. Today there have also been people handing out flyers outside the store.

Personally I usually don’t sympathize with hackers. Now I don’t know what kind of relation the guy who hacked took control over urbanoutfitters.se has to the company. I do not have any insight in the company itself either so I don’t know much of the story behind the situation and maybe someone felt that this was the only way to get the discussion started.

What I know for sure though is that I like how social media can be a tool for people to gather up and discuss about situations that engage them. Without the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and the comments on Aftonbladet.se, the discussion about the situation of the employees at Urban Outfitters wouldn’t have gotten proportions anywhere near this. Hereby I declare this as a good example of how social media can be used for good purposes. And now we can only hope for the best for the employees at Urban Outfitters.

Here is the story about Urban Outfitters according to the local news at TV4. The report is after 2 minutes and 34 seconds.