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Fools who know nothing always first to offer advice

Another week, another argument with the ill-informed on Facebook. I really need to stay off these things!

This week, I have (more…)

Facebook usage declines over past 12 months

According to data from Mixpanel, a business analytics firm, usage of social networking site Facebook has plummeted in the last 12 months.

The data is for (more…)

Study estimates millions of business listings on Google Maps are fake

According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Google Maps is now littered with business listings and contact numbers that are not genuine, with many rerouting to competing companies.

Thousands upon thousands of new, fake listings appear on Google Maps each month and the Wall Street Journal believes that the service could have as many as 11 million fake business listings on the site at present.

Back in 2017, Google itself self-funded an academic study into this subject and concluded that only 0.5% if local searches were not genuine listings. However, the Wall Street Journal’s investigation says otherwise. The Journal searched for business listings of plumbers based in New York City and it found that more than half (13) of the top 20 business results were false listings. Furthermore, it found that only two were genuine businesses that adhered to the guidelines set out by Google. These guidelines stipulate that all pushpin listings must detail locations that are open to customers.

The Journal’s research suggests that companies not based in the locations suggested by their listings are likely to include repairers, car towing companies and contractors. Google internally refers to these businesses as ‘duress verticals’ as they are the types of businesses people would turn to when they have an emergency and wouldn’t spend much time looking into the business’ credibility. The research was diluted by Google’s inclusion of hotels and restaurants, which are nearly always at the location detailed in the listing.

In order for a business listing to be verified, Google sends out a numerical code to these companies – either through an email, a phone call or by mailing a postcard – to show that they are genuine. However, it is thought that this system is fairly easy for scammers to get around by providing fake phone numbers and addresses.

This loophole in the system can damage genuine businesses and their potential customers, while the scammers, and even Google, seem to benefit. In the time since the Journal’s investigation, Google has removed the fake listings, with a spokesperson for the online giant stating that the company has since added new defences for business categories classed as high-risk.

Google has also announced that it will be giving businesses more options to customise their business listings through the My Business feature. Though this, companies can offer first-time visitors a discount on products and services, set a cover photo, and claim a shorter URL.

Furthermore, in a blog post, Google has stated that it will be working on new ways for people to report any suspicious business listings they find.

Facebook reveals cryptocurrency details

A few weeks after revealing that it was in the process of finalising plans to launch its own cryptocurrency, social media site Facebook has now released the details of its digital currency.

The currency will be called Libra, and is set to be launched early next year. Furthermore, Facebook has said that people would be able to use the currency through the company’s mobile apps, as well as on the Facebook-owned messaging platform, WhatsApp. It added that high-profile businesses such as Visa and Uber would be likely to accept Libra.

Since the news broke of Facebook’s plans to launch a digital currency, there has been plenty of concern regarding how the company will protect people’s data and money, as well as questions surrounding the currency’s volatility.

In response to these concerns, Facebook has stated that Libra will be independently managed and will be backed by real assets. It added that paying with Libra would be as easy as sending a text.

Facebook’s move into the payments sector is the latest in a line of tech companies entering the market, after the likes of Google, Apple and Samsung all entered with various payment platforms. However, Facebook is the first to base its service on an actual cryptocurrency.

For those wanting to use Libra, Facebook has said that it can be bought through its platforms in a digital wallet the company will be adding, called Calibra. Users will then be able to send Libra to others as instantly and easily as a text message is sent.

In the future, the company hopes to be able to add services for both businesses and people, such as the ability to pay bills with the click of a button, buy coffee by scanning a digital code or take public transport without having to carry cash.

The company is expected to take a small commission fee on payments that are made through this platform, although it has said that these fees would be low to no cost.

Facebook has assured those who may be interested in investing in Libra that this is not a side project that will be abandoned after a few months. It has said that this is the future of the company and is an initiative that has seen an alliance formed with other big players in the payment industry, including Mastercard, PayPal, Vodafone, eBay and Spotify.

Facebook hopes to launch Libra at the start of 2020, and its biggest test may be whether people will trust the company with their money. In anticipation of this, the company has engaged in talks with various governments, banks and regulators such as the Bank of England.

Has Google been caught ‘red handed’ in song lyric theft?

A song lyrics website is claiming that Google is stealing its content, and believes it has come up with a clever way to prove it.

Since 2014, Google has been providing lyrics to songs within its search results, sometimes including links to buy the song or album via the Google Play store. This is another example of (more…)

How to find the worst content writers

At Engage Web, we don’t just supply content for our own clients, we also supply a number of digital marketing agencies and web design agencies across the UK with copywriting services. Some of these agencies use Engage Web for overflow work, or for the odd piece, whereas some use us on a regular basis to produce hundreds of pages of content every month for their clients.

We have become their outsourced content department.

It’s something we’re particularly good at, as we have the writers to take on large volumes of content at very short notice. Unlike freelance copywriters, we don’t have the issue of a limited capacity when it comes to accepting new work, and we’re also not limited by subject matter, as we have a number of writers with varying experience and interests.

We’ve never missed a deadline, and we’ve produced web copy and blogs on subjects ranging from floor sanding to biochemical research.

Naturally there are a lot of people who also offer copywriting as a service, with some being much cheaper than Engage Web. I have always been suspicious of the quality of the content writers who charge tiny sums for their work, and advertise on platforms such as Fiverr. This week I decided to do a little research into the online writing community, to see if I could find any quality freelancers we may be able to use.

I used Facebook and joined a number of freelance copywriting groups. I should state now – this was a mistake.

The first thing I noticed was how many there are. There are hundreds. Many of them have thousands of members, all hoping to earn money producing content. The second thing I noticed is that most of them cannot string a sentence together, let alone craft content worthy of being paid for. This doesn’t stop them offering their services as writers, however. Nor does it stop people engaging with them, hoping to use them due to their cheap prices.

One such post offering content writing services was this gem:

“Hey everyone, I am a freelance writer with the power to deliver the content with 100% plagiarism free and SEO optimized”

That was by no means the worst of them.

“I am experienced content writer. I have 4 years experience in content writing. I can do SEO content writing, BLOG writing, website content and news article. My charge is $ 4 – 5 PER 500 words. I need payment every time once content gets approval. Thanks”

If their posts promoting their services are the worst type of drivel, just imagine what their work would be like! People are paying for content from these people too.

These Facebook groups aren’t just full of people who think they’re freelance copywriters looking for work, there are also people in the groups seeking copywriters. They post links to jobs, requests for copywriters and briefs they need fulfilling. Every post along these lines is jumped on by huge numbers of people who are ‘intrested’ [sic] or ask the poster to ‘Pls check inbox’.

When we recruit writers, we probably accept fewer than 1% of the people who apply. The reason for this is that everyone thinks they can write, yet most people can’t. The majority of people who apply don’t read the application properly and fail to submit a sample of their work. Those who do read the application and submit a sample, don’t follow the brief. The majority of those who do read the application, submit a sample and follow the brief can’t actually write well in the first place.

Most of these people, it seems, are in these freelance writing groups trying to get work as freelance writers.

What this has taught me is that Engage Web has some of the best writers producing content for our clients, and for our partners’ clients. We have selected the very best writers, after a rigid process, to ensure the very highest quality. Additionally, if you want awful content for your website, it’s easy to find a writing group on Facebook and make a post asking for a freelance copywriter. You’ll get dozens of responses – all of them terrible.

I have now muted the groups I have joined, and my sanity levels are all the better for it.

Facebook ousted from ethical companies index

Following a rough couple of years for social networking enterprise Facebook, which has seen the company at the centre of numerous privacy scandals, it has now been knocked off an index that records socially (more…)

Facebook set to face Austrian GDPR case following court intervention

A case filed against Facebook immediately after the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect seems likely to go ahead, following approval from the Austrian Supreme Court.

Max Schrems, an Austrian lawyer and co-founder of the digital rights organisation noyb, filed complaints against Facebook, Google and other major tech companies as soon as GDPR became official on (more…)

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