Facebook or Disgracebook? The Social Networking Sight Settles Privacy Dispute

You can not deny the power of social media. However, ironically, Facebook is one of the top ten most hated companies (zdnet). Clearly it is a love/hate relationship that exists because the numbers aren’t going down, but the grumbles are undoubtedly going up. Most of the frustrations coming from consumers had to do with the privacy issues surrounding the site. Today, Facebook finally settled their privacy dispute with the FTC as discussed in this article. However, for many consumers the damage first began with charges that the company rolled out upgrades that overrode users’ privacy settings without obtaining their consent and shared their private information with third-party apps and advertisers. I know, I know, you’re going to try and convince me that nothing is private anymore, but the fact of the matter is, consumers felt they had autonomy over their social network settings. As Organizational Behavioral theories would argue, consumers felt they had perceived control.

The allegations were incredibly serious and had the potential to be detrimental the sight (as made evident by the sight’s approval rating). “The complaint also contends that Facebook made personal information available to advertisers in instances between September 2008 and May 2010, alleging that advertisers could access identifying details about users who clicked on their ads, along with other facts, like their browsing history” (zdnet). My advice to Facebook?  Steer clear of what I would like to call the Lindsay Lohan Effect. You are not the exception. Ms. Lohan has believed she is above the law, untouchable if you will, and while the laws of social media may be a victim of an intense cultural lag, the principles are the same. Facebook is not a monopoly and as much power as the currently hold, they too are susceptible to a younger, prettier, more talented actress (in the case of Lindsey Lo) or a younger, prettier,  “safer” social media site. If the risk is not worth the reward, we will revolt.

Currently, it looks like what some would call Disgracebook will go back to being the ever-successful Facebook that we all know and love, but let’s hope that the site learned an important lesson here. They may have dodged a bullet for now, but live, learn, and then get private. For now, the resolution is as stands: “To consumers, be assured that Facebook should seek your consent before overriding your privacy settings,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. Facebook is subject to a $16,000 fine per violation per day if it fails to comply with the terms of the order. In addition to obtaining users’ explicit consent before making changes that override their existing privacy settings Facebook must institute a privacy program that’s required to be audited by a third-party company every two years for 20 years.”

What’s the lesson? Shape up or ship out. Even though you are currently king does not mean you will have the thrown forever. What do you think? “Faze”book or Facebook?



Friend or Foe?: Interpersonal Relationships at Work

I think just about everyone would agree that life is better in the company of friends (or lovers), but is a company better in the presence of these relationships? It is a debate that is hard to tackle. However, we have wrestled through the positive and negative aspects of interpersonal relationships in the work place and then applied our understanding of social psychological principles to objectively come to an understanding greater than a snap judgment or an emotional appeal.

As this ABC report points out, an individual who has a best friend at work is seven times more likely to be engaged at work and eighty-eight percent more likely to be satisfied with their lives! That’s huge. One’s personal life and work life and not mutually exclusive. In fact, they very much depend on one another. That is, if there is an area of concern in someone’s personal life it is more than likely it will carry over to his or her professional life and vice versa. Therefore, an eighty-eight percent satisfaction rating when individuals have a buddy at work is highly influential on any company.

People who have a close friendship at work are fifty percent more satisfied with their job than those that don’t.  It is easy to see Cialdini’s theory of liking here. We tend to like our best friends and therefore are more likely to help them in any way. In the work place, this is effective for work performance and creates a system of support throughout the corporation. The more you care about one another, the more you care about the quality of work. This care, when appropriately applied to the work environment builds a group-dynamic and capitalizes on the idea of unity and cohesiveness. This inclusive culture emphasizes a sense of belonging and team dynamic. When individuals see themselves as part of a group, they are more likely to associate positive feelings with the company. This applied concept of in-group bias demonstrates the benefits or being part of such a collective culture. Furthermore, a form of harmony is reached when individuals are able to line their own goals with the goals of the group. For these reasons, it is important to have a collaborative work environment that values relationships among employees.

However, to be fair, there are downsides to interpersonal relationships. Take a look at this equation for example: two best friends + one promotion = resentment. It is natural to be disappointed after not receiving a promotion, but trying to sound convincing when congratulating your best friend gets tricky. It is also difficult to handle when a friendship ends and the work relationship doesn’t. If two friends/co-workers are fighting this is detrimental to workplace morale. See below example:

On the flip-side, friends also have a tendency to “have each other’s back” which doesn’t always bode well for the employer (friendship camouflage). We suggest enforcing ratings and employee reviews as a solution to this type of behavior. It forces the employee to remain individually accountable. Also, supervisors need to be very careful if they act as a superior to their friend. Employee favoritism and bias is an easy trap to fall victim to. Training sessions for upper and lower level employees must be in place to alleviate this potential.

Lastly, the things you share with your friends are not necessarily the same things you would share with your co-workers. It is difficult to maintain a professional image when sharing stories of your bedroom rendezvous. Her “friend” and coworker, Linda Tripp, taught Monica Lewinsky this lesson. Although this is an extreme example, gossip in the workplace is a common occurrence. It is important for the company to enforce communication skill workshops as well as correctly identify the root causes of gossip so the workplace is affected minimally.

In the end, the benefits of interpersonal relationships outweigh the downsides. It is true that socialization does not equal productivity, but self-esteem promotes productivity, as does a support system as mentioned previously. I support interpersonal relationships, but that doesn’t mean this conversation is over. A local psychologist, Ken Siegel remarked, “True friendships can’t exist when there are issues such as money and status at play.” What do you think? Are these friendships authentic? Also, the article highlighted that managers and employees aren’t as aligned when it comes to just how beneficial it is to have buddies on the job: 22% of employees said befriending co-workers has a “very positive” impact on productivity, while only 2% of managers felt as strongly”. Why do you think there is such a discrepancy between employers and employees?

Effective Leadership

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. -Nelson Mandela

What makes a leader effective? Derek Sivers would argue that “the first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.” Regardless of how an individual attracts his/her followers, the point is, when they are in fact successful, there are characteristic trends within personality that most leaders share. “Every leader has a particular style of leadership that is innate. However, the behaviors, attitudes or methods of delivery that are effective for one staff member may in fact be counterproductive for another” (CNN).
Here are what I deem the most important leadership traits mentioned by the CNN article that comprises a good leader:
1. Honesty: builds trust
2. Focus: mission statement and direct understanding of expectations as well as a clear path to get there.
3. Passion: find it.
4. Respect: treat each other with dignity and equality. There is no room for favoritism.
5. Excellent persuasion abilities: find your “why”. (See previous post by me)
6. Be Empowering: make your followers feel valued.
Whether it was Ghandi, Steve Jobs, J.F.K, Dr. Greene, or the manager at your favorite local coffee shop, in order to be an effective leader, these characteristics are essential. I would argue that charm, charisma, and intellect also play obvious roles. However, as theories of organizational behavior would reinforce, inspirational leadership styles, or walking the walk is a transformative method of management.
“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be..” The same is true in management; wherever your treasure or priorities lie, there too the desires of your business (or heart) will lie. If money motivates you, than that is where your heart is. If it’s within the people you guide, than that is where your heart is. Whatever it may be, your means to the end may vary, but the most common formulas have been prove to lie within the characteristics above. Where are you lacking?

“I’m not a Businessman, I’m a Business, Man”


The New York Times recently featured an article that suggested that instead of looking for experience when hiring for new positions, companies should consider hiring individuals with one or two years of work experience, or better yet, those fresh out of college (*cough or graduate school*). Most of us either have personally been victims of exclusion based on “inexperience” or have witnessed our elders’ strong resistance to new innovations based on their often blatantly expired mentality (social media, anyone?). It is rare that an experienced professional is an early adopter. Why do you think this is?

“More often than not, I find that those who come with experience and credentials have set ways; they don’t bring as much energy or out-of-the-box thinking as the untrained junior staff.” Can I get a hallelujah? But wait, I hesitate to be too overoptimistic. Undoubtedly there are specialized jobs in which experience is vital. In areas such as science and law, experience is invaluable. However, in jobs were creativity takes precedent, we find our place. Although, if we follow this logic, we will inevitably come to a screeching halt…what happens when the kids we once babysat come knocking on our office doors with an eviction notice and a smile? How can we keep up with not the Jones’, but the Sallys’ and Bobbys’ of the next generation?

Perhaps we can think of ourselves as a business within a business. In the words of Kanye, “I’m not a business man, I am a business, man.”  That is, we have to keep taking on the new and latest ideas in order to reinvent ourselves. Otherwise, we will be replaced. “In building a global team, I’ve found that people who have fire in their belly, who come to learn, and who are open to adaptation are the ones who flourish.” It is our job within a job to continuously add fuel to the fire, to strive for our personal best, and to become irreplaceable within our organizations. In psychological terms, we must be careful to not self-stereotype, the process that individuals define themselves in terms of their group membership. Instead, we have to understand ourselves as evolving in nature and capable of innovation and creativity at all times. We have learned over and again in Organizational Psychology the importance of the hiring process and the thought that must be evaluated in both finding the right fit and assessment of the psychological contract between employee and employer. There is a shared sense of responsibility, but on our end, this begs the question, how can we position ourselves in a way in which to ensure our own personal innovation?

“I am not young enough to know everything” -Oscar Wilde

Duck, Duck, Goose: Harnessing the Power of “Three” in Marketing


“The brain finds it relatively easy to grasp threes — elements, colours and fonts.” Add another and we become overstimulated by the abundance of choice alternatives and loose focus. Don’t believe me? The proof is in the puddin’.

As a child, we were typically conditioned to group things in three: A,B,C; 1,2,3; The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Three blind mice, Three musketeers, Trinity, Three Stooges, and Duck, duck, goose–just to name a few. “Then again, maybe these writers, animators and wise men understood the ease with which we understand ‘threes’ and reconstructed their work to fit this paradigm.”

Continuing with this idea, psychological studies reinforce the conceptual interpretations of  elements, fonts, and colors as the building blocks of visual communication. It is unwise to use more than 3 fonts in any sort of communication (i.e. brochures, websites, power-points, etc). It is also recommended to use no more than three distinct colors in your advertising campaign. It not only creates a unified look, but it centralizes the attention of your consumer.

Prove it, you say? My pleasure. Let’s look at some of the most iconic brands of America to date:

McDonald’s: The McLogo consists of two elements-The name McDonald’s and the Big Golden Arches. They use just one font, and just two colours — yellow and white (or black)

Coke: The Coca-Cola button that you see in most advertising, consists of three elements: the button itself, the bottle on the button and the Coke Logo. Even though it is a full colour image, the colours are minimal and there are just one or two fonts used.

I know what you are going to say, there are exceptions, and yes, Sherlock, there certainly are. Although my point is that traditionally the rule of three aligns with our psyche. Whether we were trained to respond to the three count by the examples given above or whether we inherently respond to the trifecta is a separate question, but one I would love for you to comment on. 😉

For now, I will leave you with this:

1. URBAN DICTIONARY: Power of Three
The combined powers of three entities, upon such combination not only increase their power by three, but much greater.



Part of the Solution?

You might have noticed a little something extra while standing in line at your local Starbucks, wristbands. For five dollars, you too can support the cause. Starbucks has “teamed up with the Opportunity Finance Network® (OFN) to create and sustain jobs. We call it the Create Jobs for U.S.A. Program. It will provide capital grants to select Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). The CDFIs will provide financing to underserved community businesses which include small business loans, community center financing, housing project financing and microfinance” (Starbucks).

One of our readings in Organizational Psychology this past week entitled Restorying a Culture of Ethical and Spiritual Values: A Role for Leader Storytelling written by Cathy Driscoll and Margaret McKee look at the impact the CEOs or high executives have among their employees. Discussion about this article primarily focused on religion, but I argue that it is less about imposing religious beliefs, and more about instilling values. In a top-down corporation like Starbucks, Howard Schultz has not been a passive player. His opinions have been made very clear, and the ripples in the current are definitely making waves. In fact, he has recently received backlash/been glorified (depending on what side of the fence you’re on) because of his letter to America. It made me wonder, is this his place? Is he using his power and position to do good or to push his own agendas? Is Mr. Schultz part of the problem by encouraging polarization of both sides of these issues, or is he using his power for good? After all, what is bad about creating jobs? With the economy the way that is has been lately, we have seen everything from bailouts to now wristbands. When will it end–and more importantly how will it end?

Yahoo news posted an article today entitled Employers post most job openings in 3 years is this a coincidence? If not, how do you think this will change the way companies market? How will we as members and consumers of society be able to decipher between profit and motive?

It’s Official: CEOs are Psychopaths

The Discovery Channel has new show. I know, you’re excited.

It’s called How Evil Are You?, a question I typically only ask the car that merged into my lane on the 110 without a blinker, or when questioning the mental abilities of the artist formally known as Spencer Pratt, but Eli Roth delves into this question in a way that only we as students of psychology can truly appreciate. On the series premiere, Roth replicates the Milgram Experiment and examines his own brain patterns, both produce fascinating results.


Originally, The Milgram experiment studied obedience towards authority figures. The study began in July of 1961 as a series of notable experiments in social psychology conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, “which measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience” (Milgram).

At the heart of the Milgram experiment is the study of human reaction to obedience. Without hesitation, seventy percent of individuals comply with orders given by authority. There are varying degrees of obedience that commonly exemplify this point. If you are pulled over by an officer for texting, the right to privacy prevents you from handing over your phone to the authority. They can not search your car or house without a warrant or probable cause. Celebrities make millions of dollars each year because of the authority they have over us; buy this, do this, eat this.  Millions of Americans were up in arms with the TSA when they believed they were abusing their rights during the searching process at airports, but Justin Bieber told his fans to follow an entertainment reporter, Billy Bush. Within 24 hours Bush had more than 14,000 new followers (not to mention the potentially hundreds of thousands of impressions/click-throughs he received). In this case, Bieber was the authority, in more extreme situations the authority has been Hitler, his influence conceived genocide. Clearly, both of these examples are at varying extremes of the spectrum, and in no way does Justin Bieber equate to Hitler, but both are infamous for their mass appeal and overwhelming effect upon their audience. As an authority, It is not about being effective. After all, Hitler was effective, but look at the devastation he caused. It is not about being the loudest or the most charismatic. It is about how we act as a result of someone else. I argue that the impact upon our own behavior is what dictates the true measure of authority.

During the latter part of the episode, Roth lets doctors scan his own brain, looking to locate signs of “evil”. “There are scientists that believe you can isolate for evil genetics. I went in this MRI where they flashed images of a rocking chair and a dead body and random stuff like that to see how my brain processes everything. The results from my brain were insane. I could not believe it” (The insider). Not surprisingly, Roth wants us to watch the show to find out the details of his inner means; however, while promoting the show (interview with Dr. Drew) Roth did say something incredibly remarkable. According to Roth, Dr. Fallon who conducted Roth’s brain scan recognizes, “The same qualities that are in a psychopath or serial killer are the qualities we look for in a CEO. You want them to kill the competition and make tough decisions, to be a strong leader, a dictator, a president. They have similar brain functions to a psychopath or someone that can turn off and kill another person.”

The replication of the “new age” Milgram experiment on How Evil Are You premiers  tonight. Do you think we will fall for the same traps? In the last 50 years we have assuaged racial prejudices, birthed some of the most insane technological advances, found cures for previously untreatable illnesses, started and stopped wars, elected a black president, etc., but have we evolved enough to change the results of Milgram’s social experiment, or is the root of who we are beyond our consciousness? Have we really learned nothing?

The results just may shock you.