What’s wrong with this image? Obviously, it’s a troubling story about a missing 16 year old girl (Veronica Bobadilla) who was last seen last Monday. When her family tried texting her phone the message they received back said, “I’ve killed Veronica. Stop texting her.”
Very sad and unsettling. WYFF4 reported that Tuesday afternoon, Bobadilla called home to say she was on her way back, but it is not yet clear where she was headed or where she was when she called.
Hooray for happy endings!! So now that THAT is settled, let’s go back to the image. Do you see the match.com advertisement? Many companies, large and small, advertise on their website. It’s a nice revenue stream, right? So why wouldn’t they??
The trouble is when automated processes are in place and not reviewed by someone who understands both the context of their site as well as that of the product/service being advertised. Whoever is managing the AdSense campaign for The Huffington Post should have prevented this potentially embarrassing ad from popping up. After all, the sad truth is that 70% of runaways become a part of the sex trade industry, often within the first 24 hours of leaving. (Are you surprised by this? If so read up on the disturbing practice of prostituted girls in Georgia here.)
If you are concerned about a similarly inappropriate ad landing on your website, ask your advertising partner to share the categories of companies that could possibly show up on your site. If you’re a DIY type, and have your own AdSense account, you will probably want to start by looking at the “Sensitive categories” of possible advertisers. For example, if you run a bakery, you probably will want to rule out any weight loss centers, or run the risk of an ad with an obese person on it popping up on your website designed to sell your bakery items. Because as you may know…muffin tops don’t sell muffins.
I live in a great community called East Cobb in the ‘burbs of Atlanta, GA. I’m a member of a Facebook Group called the East Cobb Moms Exchange. It’s a unique and helpful group where, just as the title indicates, moms in the area exchange information. Here is an example of a recent post:
Isn’t that nice?? I truly love this community. She immediately had a few takers (this post made me laugh a little…so glad that I no longer have kids who need diapers!!!).
This morning a woman posted this query: “Does anyone know who’s rooster is in my parking lot at the McDonalds on waterfront and johnsonferry rd. I have called animal control but they won’t do anything. I have gotten complaints about it and need to get rid of it thanks.”
What happened next was interesting…there was an outpouring of support for the rooster, including fans suggesting that he be given an unofficial name and signage put up about him. So, meet Ronald, the unofficial mascot of this McDonalds. Apparently he is a feral rooster who freely roams the area. There are 85 comments and the conversation is still going as I type this post.
I love a good happy ending…and especially love that this local mom/manager leveraged her social media contacts to seek advice on how to get rid off what she perceived as a threat to the business…only to find out that it is really an asset, complete with its’ own fan base.
There is a lesson here for us all…sometimes traditional approaches (calling animal control in this case) don’t produce the results you want/need. Thinking outside of the box and leveraging your social media circles can help turn things around…turning a liability into a little chicken salad.
My daughter and I were interviewed yesterday by Fox 5 Atlanta’s Tacoma Perry about the risks involved in a relatively new website that teens and preteens are using called Ask.Fm. Here is a link to the interview:
Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5
To recap, Ask is a site where you set up a profile and anyone can anonymously ask you a question. Kids are using it to find out more about each other. Sometimes it’s cute “What’s your favorite color?” but I’ve seen more and more posts that are deeply alarming, including questions posed to 12 and 13 year old girls about their sexual history. I’ve also seen girls bullied and encouraged to commit suicide. I was so concerned about one kid that I called the police (who didn’t know WHAT to do).
Here is part of that thread. This poor kid was harassed beyond belief and told repeatedly that nobody liked her (including her parents) and that she should do the world a favor and die.
I wrote a little bit more about this website yesterday, you can read that here.
If your child is on Instagram, I would bet that they’ve had at least some exposure to Ask.Fm. If you’re curious as to whether or not your kid is using the site, go to any computer or device where they use the internet. Type in “www.ask.fm” in the browser. If they’re using it, their profile will likely pop up. And of course, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section.
Did you ever read Lord of the Flies? It’s basically about a bunch of kids who get stuck on a deserted island together and resort to governing themselves, to disastrous results. I am reminded of this savage behavior when I see kids interact online.
I was interviewed this morning by a local television station about a site called Ask.FM. This is a site where people set up an account and then anyone – anywhere – can ask them anything. Anonymously. Most of the accounts I’ve seen on it are kids, ranging in age from 11-15 or so. Some of it is harmless, what’s your favorite color, your favorite band, etc. And some of it is disturbing: hold old were you when started your period? What size bra do you wear?? How far have “gone” with a boy?
Incredibly, the kids answer. I’ve seen a kid ganged up on and bullied relentlessly, to the point where people are begging her to kill herself. I’ve seen another where someone said to her “I had a dream last night that I raped you. And I want to do it in real life….” This anonymous person then went on to describe, in horrifying detail, how he or she would rape this child.
Why is this happening? Why are our children resorting to savage behavior online when they are reasonably well behaved in person? It’s because they are not being governed. They’re not parented online; we have become functionally illiterate in the world in which our children live. It’s not because we don’t care…of COURSE we care. But we have been so slow to embrace online media. This generation of parents in many cases is still adjusting and adapting to Facebook. First of all, Facebook is merely the tip of the iceberg in social media. Second of all, kids have been moving away from it and onto other platforms at warp speed. We aren’t keeping up.
When our kids were little, crossing the street was a BIG deal. We established rules:
Then they were rewarded or punished for how they did, “Great job looking both ways!! I’m proud of you!” Or if your kid broke one of the rules you would immediately stop what you’re doing and talk to (or yell at) your kid, reinforcing the rules and why they are so important. This cycle was rinsed and repeated until you felt somewhat confident that your kid would be safe.
We don’t have that for social media. And we need it. BADLY.
Kids need to know that:
There have been several suicides in the UK tied to ask.fm. We need to be proactive or I’m afraid of what might happen.
Zach Sobiech wrote a song about how it feels to be terminal with cancer. It’s called Clouds and it went viral.It is a beautiful song.
Today is Zach’s funeral. This short documentary is a must watch. I think that we can all learn a lot from him. RIP Zachary. Thank you for your beautiful song and your unbelievable spirit.