Friday, December 10, 2010

Facebook Photo Bombing Update

Since my last post I sent messages to the accounts of Ted Wheeler and Berbati's Pan inquiring about the photo bombing incident.

A staff member of Ted Wheeler's named Katrina promptly responded to my message, informing me that she dealt with the issue as soon as she noticed it (within about an hour of the tagging).

" I discovered the photo bombing, untagged Ted and then blocked & reported "her" for spam, " she wrote. "Ted gets lots of friend requests from people he doesn't know and since he usually accesses FB via phone, generally just accepts the request and moves on. Unfortunately, this has led to a few instances where the "friend" was a spammer and later he or I delete & block."

Berbati's has not responded to my message and last night I noticed that they had been tagged in more photos of the same model, which were once again appearing in my Newsfeed. Either they don't mind or they don't keep very close tabs on their account.

Of course having photos of scantily clad women showing up on the page of a nightclub is hardly the same as having them on the page of a politician, and it's not surprising that Ted Wheeler has a system in place for dealing with such things, while Berbati's (which, for all I know, may benefit from the extra traffic driven to their page and arguably wouldn't suffer comparable negative consequences to those of a politician) either intentionally allows other accounts to tag them in such photos, or simply isn't worried enough about their social media image to monitor it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Facebook Photo Bombing Targets High-Profile Portland Locals

This evening I logged into Facebook and noticed a number of pictures of a scantily clad woman accompanied by a link (I did not click it, but it claims to go to the site for which the woman models) in my News Feed.

I was surprised to see them, as I did not recognize the women, nor am I friends with anyone whom I would expect to post such pictures on the site. I quickly realized that a couple of local users with whom I'm friends, Greek restaurant and night club Berbati's Pan and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who is known for his avid social media use (last year, while serving as County Chair he broke the news of a ski-related back injury on Twitter before contacting any traditional media) had been tagged in the photos posted by another account, presumably belonging to the model in the photos.

I can't be certain if the breast-implant laden Asian woman in the photos is truly the 23-year-old UO student and self-described "Kind,Understanding and a simple woman" the profile claims, nor can I be certain whether it is this woman who is behind the account at all, but I was struck by how simple this marketing strategy is, and how surprising it is that I haven't noticed anyone using it before.

This tactic is essentially the Facebook equivalent of Napster bombing, though it seems not to work the same way in terms of targeting a specific audience, unless "her" goal is simply to get as many Portlanders as possible to view her pictures, and, if she's lucky, her profile.

Successful Napster-bombers would tag their music with the names of popular artists whose music at least resembled or shared commonalities with their own, thus reaching the ears of music downloaders who were likely to enjoy their music.

I am, presumably, not this model's target audience. I have little interest in viewing pictures of random nearly nude women on the internet, and, while I'm sure there are exceptions, I suspect the majority of Ted Wheeler and Berbati's Pan's Facebook friends are not looking for such pictures, either. Would it not be more effective, I wonder, to tag high profile models in the photos, rather than a middle-aged white male politician and an inanimate and un-sex-related business?

Furthermore, Ted Wheeler and Berbati's Pan (and all the other people tagged in the photos) will probably un-tag themselves (and perhaps unfriend her, as well) the next time they log in, leaving only a small window for all these people's friends to see the pictures in their News Feeds.

I suspect as this strategy catches on, more public figures and businesses will change their Facebook settings so that their friends can't tag them in photos without their approval.