Obamacare Web Developer Grilled over HIPAA Privacy Clause in Source Code

The company hired to develop the now infamous Obamacare website CGI Inc, has taken a lot of heat for a clause in their source code that claims any information that is entered on the website is not private. This has obviously caused a stir-up in Congress and several Congressmen have spoken up.

According to cnsnews.com, Republican Joe Barton says that this clause was a violation of the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act or HIPAA that states any medical and health information of U.S. citizens is private under HIPAA. Barton sounded off on Cheryl Campbell, SVP of CGI and it was ugly. He put her on the spotlight as she stumbled over her words trying to construct a valid response.

Democrat Frank Pallone objected saying that the information required to sign up for Obamacare does not include health or medical data. Pallone claimed that this was just another stunt by Republicans to discourage people that were planning on signing up for Obamacare.

Many web developers are criticizing CGI being that they were paid a large amount of money to develop a flawed site and perhaps an illegal site. Either way this provision, (hidden from applicants by the way) does not give privacy to the applicant’s information. It’s important for web developers to remember all U.S. laws when developing any website (especially one designed for the United States Government). Having a lead developer with the tools to recognize all aspects of the project is key in any web development process. Whether you agree with Barton or Pallone, many of us are left wondering what else is hidden in the source code on some of your favorite websites. Be sure to choose carefully when you hire a web development firm.

See the video here:

Online Peace During Safer Internet Day

If I were to tell you that companies like Facebook, Google, and others would have the ability to work together, you might think that it’d be a silly claim to make. After all, these are companies that are looking to make it to the top and the only way that they can be at their best is through competition. That being said, it appears as though they made peace, at least for one day. This is where a particular time called the Safer Internet Day has to be talked about.

Those who have been bullied know all too well about the physical – not to mention emotional – trauma that it can cause. However, these days it’s like the bullying does not end at school, as the online world has been both a blessing and a curse. For as much software as there is as far as communication is concerned, there have been a number of stories of young men and women being harassed through the Internet. Stories like the one about five-year-old Disney star Mia Talericobeing sent death threats shows that this problem hasn’t faded entirely, regardless of the level of awareness it’s garnered.

According to a report on Forbes, Safer Internet Day was founded in Europe a little more than a decade ago. It was recognized throughout many places in the world but it wasn’t until recently that the United States climbed onboard the proverbial ship. Many different companies that have been in competition over the years will put their differences aside for a day in order to celebrate this day. From Twitter to Sprint, the list of supporters is more like a who’s who of global entities.

Not only does this act show goodwill on the part of the companies, but it’s easy to say that this is being done in order to keep consumer trust. Any social media agency can tell you that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are hotbeds for networking, though this can be a negative at times. What’s stopping a schoolyard bully from logging onto one of these patforms and continually harassing someone else on his or her page? The promotion of a greater level of personal security and safety on this day is understandable.

Yesterday was Safer Internet Day and the list of companies that were in support of this day is hard to overlook. While it’s likely that these companies want to appeal themselves to current and potential consumers, it’s apparent that they recognize the situation at hand. There is a clear problem with matters such as bullying and the fact that individuals can be targeted through their computers and phones is unfortunate, to say the least. The tagline for SID is, “Let’s create a better Internet together,” and it’s hard to imagine a nobler endeavor in the online world.

Facebook & 3 Concerns With Video Ads

As it seems, Facebook is climbing onboard the video ad boat and it is a move that is actually very fitting. With such a large audience to consider with this particular website, it was only a matter of time until videos would start to constantly appear on the newsfeeds of users. This is a great financial move on the part of Facebook but I have to wonder how much this move will impact the user base at large. While these concerns have been confirmed, they are concerns with the upcoming change nonetheless.

  1. The change will not bode well for the faltering teen demographic. As it’s been reported in the past, those within this group have utilized the site less and even Facebook itself confirmed the matter. While some of this could be considered a result of young men and women wanting to get away from the vigilant eyes of their Facebook-using parents, it can also be argued that they have started to see more in the way of advertising on a site that is meant for social engagement. If there’s one things teens enjoy, it isn’t a litany of advertisements, in video form or otherwise.
  2. These videos may not be too friendly to older computers. Your typical laptop is not going to sputter out of control and combust if only one website is open but think about the common Internet user. Is that individual going to have one tab alone open on their browser of choice? When that individual is moving from page to page, they expect a smooth experience. While videos can come together as arguably the greatest platform for marketing, it’s reasonable to worry about how much bandwidth it will consume.
  3. No one really asked for video ads on Facebook. Yes, it is true that the videos on a user’s newsfeed will play silently at the onset, which is a smart move that any Long Island advertising agency can support. That being said, Facebook stated that, “Compelling sight, sound and motion are often integral components of great marketing campaigns.” While this might be true, is there a chance that Facebook will implement a change where videos are no longer mute to begin with? The idea of this social media mogul forcing video advertising in the faces of its users will do more bad than good in the long run; this won’t apply to only teenagers, either.

When considering the idea that Facebook will sell these ads for $2 million a day, it’s clear that the company stands a great chance of coming into money. Companies have to understand that this site is where most individuals on the Internet frequent. The idea of utilizing video content for awareness is understandable. Hopefully I am wrong about the concerns listed above and that these ads can benefit everyone.

#Redskins- Social Media Will Eventually Force a Name Change in Washington

The NFL’s Washington Redskins have been all over the media lately. Unfortunately for them, it’s not because they’re winning.

The NFL’s third most valuable franchise has come under fire from the media because of the nickname ‘Redskins,’ a term deemed offensive to Native Americans. Redskins owner Dan Snyder has repeatedly defended the moniker by citing Native Americans who don’t mind the name, reminiscing on the team’s eight-decade history, and pleading that the name is meant to honor, not disrespect Native Americans.

This is not the first time the ‘Redskins’ name has been challenged, but clearly something is different about this controversy. That thing: social media.

Social media has taken the United States by storm. Seemingly everybody has a Facebook or Twitter account, and sports are one of social media’s favorite topics. On any given autumn Sunday, the trending list on Twitter is dominated by the NFL franchises and players. The Redskins are not an exception to the NFL’s Twitter success. In fact, they have roughly a quarter million followers on Twitter—sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin III has over a million.

From a marketing perspective, Twitter and the NFL are a match made in heaven. Followers get to hear the latest news about their favorite team, and follow the lives of their favorite players. In exchange, Twitter provides teams with an easily accessed, interested audience, who are likely to follow posted links to the team store and season ticket information.
However, what the Redskins are slowly finding out is that social media is a double-edged sword.

Your average Joe might only see social media as a way to keep tabs on friends, family and their favorite celebrities, but social media agencies understand the power social media harnesses. Thanks to sites like Facebook and Twitter, everyone is a journalist, everyone is a critic, and everyone has a voice. Facebook groups and Twitter hash tags allow for “social media journalists’” ideas to spread like wildfire through the digital forests, lighting aflame the feeds of likeminded individuals.

The history of social media tells us: when a group of people feel vehemently about an issue, they do not let it die. I wouldn’t expect anything different from proponents of changing the name of the NFL’s Washington franchise, and usually, presidential support doesn’t help suppress protestors.

Twitter presents a problem for the Redskins’ front office. They can’t control what is said to their players, and, more importantly, they cannot control what their players say. If social media were at some point able to convince a Redskin superstar that the team they stood for is racist? Does anybody doubt the team would change its name in a heartbeat? What if the NFL, who is constantly concerned about their own image, gets tired of the #racist campaigns on Sundays?

The level of social media outrage about the name Redskins might rise and fall, but it will never go away until a name change occurs, casting a dark cloud over any Redskin accomplishments along the way.One can imagine the stories if the Redskins, who are led by an African American quarterback, ever prevailed champions of America’s game.

In owner Dan Snyder’s letter to Washington Redskins fans, linked above, he mentions a survey conducted by the Associated Press. The national survey found that only 11 percent of those polled believed that the football team should change its name. Admittedly, 11 percent is a low percentage. However, in the world of social media, the ‘loud minority’ is even louder. What Mr. Snyder will soon realize is that as the number of people needed to make a difference decreases, the number of people that need to be offended to force change decreases also.

The Simpsons Co-Creator Sam Simon Faces Terminal Illness and Shares Wealth With Others

Sam Simon, the co-creator of The Simpsons, is dying of Stage 4 colon cancer and has been given a few months to live. This startling news has shocked many people in the entertainment world and fans of the famous producer, writer, director, etc.

At 58 years old Simon is not going to sit around and let this disease get the best of him. Simon has decided to donate nearly all of his fortune to help those in need.

The co-creator of The Simpsons developed and began the show in 1989 along with cartoonist Matt Groening. Since then, the show has dominated TV ratings and it is still running strong. Simon left the show in 1993 to pursue other projects, but still remains credited as an executive producer. That means he receives tens of millions in royalties from the show every year.

Simon is giving all that money to people who deserve it. As a huge animal rights activist and philanthropist, Simon knows exactly where to donate. Places like PETA, Feed The Children, The Sea Shepard Conservation Society, and The Sam Simon Foundation will all receive donations.

Those who don’t follow Simon’s career history or work in social media marketing probably wouldn’t know much about him… except for the fact that he and Matt Groening are the “parents” of The Simpsons. But even before his diagnosis, Simon was a generous man, built on strong ethics and values. After directing an episode of “The Drew Carey Show” that involved race dogs, Simon donated all of the money he made from the episode to charity. Why? Because he did not agree with the episode’s theme and use of animals. And eventually in 2011, Simon created his own self-titled foundation built around feeding families in need, helping veterans, and rescuing stray dogs.

In a recent interview, Simon explained his situation and why he feels the need to donate his money to strong charities.  “You know, I’m not married, and I don’t have kids…I had an emergency operation when I was septic, and I really did come very close to dying. My colon cancer perforated my colon. When I woke up in the hospital, even though I did have a will, it did become that much more important to me to set this stuff up for the future.”

Sam Simon is a tremendous man who has left us with some great entertainment and, better yet, some beautiful examples of the power of the human spirit. All aspects of his work will be admired for years and years to come. He is a testament to the simple fact that life is meant to be a collection of love and doing things that we love. Thank you Mr. Simon.

How the New Facebook Algorithm Will Change News Feed for Marketers

Over the next few weeks Facebook is planning on rolling out a few new updates to their news feed.

The social media giant is changing the algorithm that determines what stories appear at the top of a user’s news feed. To a normal user, this might be irrelevant, but to a marketer, this is an important change that could determine the best way to post on Facebook.

The idea of a Facebook news feed is to deliver content to a user that is both relevant and important to them.

But this is no easy task.

According to a recent Facebook blog post, “every time someone visits News Feed there are on average 1,500 potential stories from friends, people they follow and Pages for them to see.” There’s such a vast amount of potential stories users can view that many people simply lack the time to sift through them all.

Prior to the update, the News Feed functioned by churning out content specific to a user’s engagement. Facebook learned who users followed, who connected with, how they engaged with friends and what content they posted. The idea is relatively simple: by monitoring what people are liking on Facebook, the algorithm decided what to show more or less of. According to the blog, the previous algorithm allowed Facebook to “prioritize an average of 300 stories” a day.

The idea of the new update is to help users to see the stories they didn’t get a chance to see before: the hilarious status update lost amongst the pages and advertisements that pepper the feed and your cousin’s wedding photo that you never saw because you were getting too many updates on what level of Candy Crush your best friend has beaten. These were all lost in the old algorithm.

Facebook is fixing this problem by prioritizing popular posts that may get buried in a News Feed. The new algorithm creates a chance that a popular post will reappear near the top of a user’s News Feed. Early tests have already shown that the “change resulted in a 5 percent increase” likes, comments and shares for user content and around 8 percent for Pages content.

But what this update means for social media agencies and brands is what is particularly interesting. Facebook already offers a multitude of advertising methods from sidebar ads to full-fledged sponsored advertisements, and this update may lead to even more.

Facebook could offer a system where brands could pay to have their content shown multiple times on users’ feeds allowing content to stay fresher, longer, and avoid a burn out. On the other hand, there could be a more cost efficient strategy for marketers and brands with a well-established presence on the site. They might be alble to just produce more content with hopes of several stories gaining popularity and being shown multiple times on feeds.

The more cost effective method, however, might also have negative repercussions. Some Facebook users see advertisements on the site as a small annoyance and others as a helpful way to connect with what they like. The problem is if brands start to produce vast amounts of content, it may become overwhelming for standard users looking to simply connect with their friends. It could dissuade those users from liking certain pages that post a lot just so they appear more in a feed.

Aside from what method brands might prefer, the approach brands take towards producing content may also change. Brands can tailor content that they know will be part of the improved feed, such as posts that are created to spark heavy discussion amongst users. Content with an emphasis on creating engagement won’t burn out as quickly if its placement on a news feed is determined entirely from how much people are interacting with it.

We may see posts that create an enormous amount of discussion and stay relevant for months on end. Think about campaigns like Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches. If content like that was able to take advantage of the improved News Feed, then we might still be seeing it at the top of our feeds every day.


What Would Woodward and Bernstein Say?

Washington Post Company CEO Donald Graham cites the “economics of the print industry” in his decision to sell the Post and all company newspapers to Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon. Graham said in a letter to employees that he hopes the change in ownership will be best for the Post after losing revenue for seven years straight.

The $250 million sale includes all news publications owned by the Washington Post Co. but not its other properties, including Slate and Foreign Policy Magazine. Bezos, not Amazon, will own the paper

Katharine Weymouth, the Post’s publisher and Graham’s niece, questioned whether a publically traded company, like Washington Post Co., could conflict with journalism. She, General Manager Stephen Hills, and Editor Martin Baron will continue to work or the paper in their current positions.

Bezos will trade the company publicly, meaning there will be less emphasis on profits, a similar tactic taken with Amazon. The Washington’s Post’s lost nearly $50 million this year. Other companies, such as advertisers and marketers have been forced to adapt and turn to online marketing companies to survive.

Will the Washington Post, and other newspapers, be able to survive in electronic format? Ideally, the technology will adapt to the content, not the other way around. Amazon might prove to be a good home for the Post, Graham himself advised Bezos on how to make newspapers papers accessible on the Amazon Kindle.

Newspaper consultant Alan D. Mutter told the NY Times that the Post can collaborate with Amazon, even if the two will be owned separately. Mutter also predicated Bezos’s background in technology could aid the floundering paper

The Post was one of their first newspapers to break the NSA security scandal and the Watergate break-in, which ultimately lead to the resignation of President Nixon. The Post was one of the papers involved in the Pentagon Papers case, when the Supreme Court rules the government could not censor work before it was published. This is the history the Bezos is buying.

“…the values of The Post do not need changing,” Bezos said, “The duty of the paper is to the readers, not the owners.”

But the medium does have some effect on the quality of work. On one hand, news is now instantaneous and can be easily corrected and updated. However, one ugly symptom of electronic journalism is the lack of a deadline and traditional news cycle. Work has to be published as fast as possible, before the competition can break the story. Fact checking and editing can be left out in this process.

But while Bezos has never owned a newspaper, his experience in publishing could be valuable. One of the keys to his success with the Kindle is competitive pricing with paperbacks, according to the Financial Post, but that may not translate to the daily commitment of newspapers.

Whatever the case, newspapers need to be experimented with. The internet and social media are affecting all businesses and most industries must learn to use technology as consumers come to expect it.

Arguing: The Universal Language

Wikipedia, in theory, is great. Anyone can write about a topic they are familiar with, and anyone who wants to learn can access it for free. In practice, there is some disagreement.

Of course, there is always disagreement in academia. However professors can’t change each other’s existing papers, then change the back, and change them again, and change them back…

The term for this is “Edit Wars.” It has been the subject of several studies and some organizations have (foolishly) attempted to moderate it.

Floating Sheep, a site that geographically maps activity on the Internet, created a map of edit wars in different language versions of Wikipedia.

This is the English map,


There are whole continents under that red mass. These dots represent where editors have changed or even completely delete another’s work (then the first editor changes it back, and it gets deleted again…).

What could cause such controversy? The top five for this map are George W. Bush, Anarchism, Muhammad, The list of employees of the WWE and Global warming. If you’re not supposed to bring it up with strangers or a family dinner party, you can argue until to your heart’s content with others around the world.

People have accused the Internet of keeping people from talking to each other, which is true. People are much less likely to talk to each other in the waiting room or the subway when they can just take their phone out at talk to whoever, about whatever, they want.

The fact is the Internet has also brought people together and they have found others with similar tastes. People who think cats are funny, people who take pictures of food, and people who love to complain and argue.

What’s interesting is where these people are arguing from. There are a lot of changes to the Spanish language Wikipedia coming from Japan, a small surge in the Czech Wikipedia coming from the Midwest and some huge dots for the French Wikipedia come from Mexico and California. The authors of the article believe some of these come from educational institutions.

The English version, however, is being edited from all over the world, indicating its spread and universality. It is the most widely spoken second language in the world according to nationsonline.org, and the mother-tongue of debaters.

Smaller languages are limited mostly to the nation where they are spoken, but not English. Does fighting on the Internet have the ability to bring the world together? Usually when different cultures came in contact, the result was less than pretty. Now it’s brought down deleting other people work from an online encyclopedia. It’s not great but it could be worse, and it has people talking and not physically fighting (always and improvement). People can also see who is criticizing them and why, and can watch as the comments and changes are made.

Social media marketing, email, and texting have been accused of limiting social interaction. Yet it also has increased people’s social circle, and allowed lively debate.

What Does an Escaped Zoo Animal Do First? Get Famous on Twitter.

That’s Rusty, a red panda who was the subject of a city-wide search and many, many jokes after he was discovered missing from his enclosure at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.

The story has all the elements to go viral: a cute animal, humans who like idiots, Washington, and an impeccable timeliness. It was a powder keg of snark and sarcasm waiting to go off.

Rusty was found safe in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, less than a mile from the zoo, after a woman called the zoo and tweeted a photo of him.

How the animal, which is the size of a small dog, escaped is still under investigation. There has been speculation he was taken by a human and then released.

The event was a goldmine for social media comedians. And as the New York Times pointed out, everyone went crazy.

For a glorious few hours, everyone in D.C. was united by a common cause. There are fewer things that cause less controversy than not wanting an escaped, but adorable, creature running around in your yard, and then making fun of the inept government who let him escape to god-knows-where (that statement can also apply to Edward Snowden.)

Sadly, in an effort to keep up with Twitter, the mainstream news outlets followed, trying to fight the stereotype that new is boring and depressing (and important).

Having the escape occur after all the Snowden coverage was too much for some to resist.CNN saw fit to write an article comparing the two fugitives, because they are practically the same person. You know, they both kind of have the same peachy color scheme going on.

So, journalists aside, we have something to bond over at least–some harmless humor.

Some stories are just unifiers. Some fun gets injected in a seriously depressing news cycle. Is it important to anyone outside of Washington D.C.? Probably not, unless Rusty managed to trick a bunch of journalists into thinking he got on a plane to Cuba.  But it provided a release, and let some people exercise their sense of humor.

Social media is such a great platform for sharing jokes because it shows a record of your validation. “Likes” and “Retweets” are the new applause.  The connection to the Internet allows everyone to be newsworthy.

Social media agencies can also learn something from this red panda fiasco. Jokes spread like wildfire on social media. It’s a great ego boost to see your comment retweeted or your post liked, even if it’s under the stage name of an animal.

Casting Call for Batman, Top Five Candidates for The New Film

Comic Con has been making headlines the past few weeks. At Comic Con, producers are known for releasing film, TV, and comic news of all sorts. The biggest piece of news to surface at this year’s event was the announcement of DC’s Superman/Batman film, set for 2015.

Social media agencies have been going wild since the news broke. Fans of the superheroes have been nervously ecstatic about the film and who will be casted as Batman, since Christian Bale (the most recent Batman) declared he would not be in the film.  So who will be Batman, now? Well many have been speculating on Twitter and Facebook with lists of possible actors, so here’s my list.

5.) Thomas Jane: Jane would make a good Batman mainly because of his work as the Punisher many years ago. While Jane starred as the Punisher, the film was not as successful as Marvel hoped. That means he isn’t necessarily tied down to the rival comic company, and better yet, Jane had a very dominant presence as a powerful, but human hero, which is exactly what Batman needs to be.

4.) Ryan Gosling: I know this is a surprising one, but it comes with good reason. Gosling showed that he has the physical presence to be Batman, but he also has the charm to be Bruce Wayne. And, in his young career, Gosling has delivered some fantastic performances.

3.) Gerard Butler: Butler is just a real man when it comes to film. He has the grit to fight and bear it all in any role. He is not the ideal choice, but he can definitely pull it off if DC was in a hurry to cast the part.

2.) Jason Statham: If he could work on his accent, he could land Batman. Statham has ruled the action movie world and Batman would make him one of the best action hero’s of his time. He is an aggressive actor who rarely shows much emotion in his action, which is key for Batman.

1.) Bradley Cooper. I know this probably has shocked many readers, but I stand firmly by this choice. Cooper is one of the gutsiest actors of our time and he has proven his abilities in any type of role. He has played vast roles from a med-induced mental patient to a comedic drunk. He has the acting ability and generous looks to knock the Bruce Wayne portion out of the park. He obviously has the physique for Batman and he is well overdue for a film of this nature that will put him on a whole new level. He is more than just a pretty boy actor, Bradley Cooper is a dominant actor who has been stealing scenes in every project he has done.