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Cisco Social Software Lets You "Stalk" Customers

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the the-commercials-are-coming-from-inside-the-house dept.

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coondoggie writes "Cisco this week unveiled software designed to let companies track customers and prospects on social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other public forums and sites. Cisco SocialMiner allows users to monitor status updates, forum posts and blogs of customers so they can be alerted of conversations related to their brand. The software is designed to not only enable enterprises to monitor the conversations of their customers but to engage those that require service, Cisco says."

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Excellent! (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34119976)

Now I won't have to remember my client's anniversaries, their kid's birthdays, when & where they go on vacation ... because they'll all fire me if they find out I'm stalking them.

Re:Excellent! (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120710)

As long as it's after you made the sale, you've made this quartert's quotas and you _don't care_..

Go watch "Glengarry, Glen Ross" to get some fascinating insights into your next sales pitch from HP.

but but but, this isn't China!!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34119982)

wait a minute

Re:but but but, this isn't China!!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120130)

hold on a second

Re:but but but, this isn't China!!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120152)

waaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttt . . .

Re:but but but, this isn't China!!? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34121526)

Stop!

Hammer time!

Consequences? (5, Interesting)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120034)

Awesome. So tell me, what happens when companies start to use this to toss around defamation lawsuits (RIAA style) to squash negative opinions of their product(s)?
Won't someone think of the Apple-haters?!

Re:Consequences? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120076)

Good heavens? Astroturf? NOBODY does that!

Re:Consequences? (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120094)

What he's talking about is far beyond astroturfing.

Re:Consequences? (1)

Denihil (1208200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34121124)

we need a new term then! so, let's see.... "terminator astroturfing", ala monsanto style?

Re:Consequences? (1)

Jayemji (1054886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34121470)

What he's talking about is far beyond astroturfing.

Papers please.

Re:Consequences? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34121740)

What he's talking about is far beyond astroturfing.

It seems more akin to "Agent Orange-ing", no?

Re:Consequences? (1)

JxcelDolghmQ (1827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120736)

I've already had a vendor (a telco hotel owner that shall go unnamed) that tried to indirectly get me fired due to my public criticism of them on Twitter.

I say indirectly because after my tweets got their attention and got some VPs involved, they then pulled the "Hey I don't think we're charging you for as much space as what you're actually using. We wouldn't have noticed this but since your employee has been talking trash about us on twitter we're going to start charging you more."

Unfortunately for them, it didn't work.

Re:Consequences? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34121154)

Yep, one prominent Australian broadband forum, Whirlpool, had this issue a while back with a company that produced a business management/accounting package.

2Clix Software - Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

When you searched for the software on Google it came up with the forum thread full of people's problems which was effecting their business. Their solution wasn't to improve their product or serve their customers better, it was to sue the forum.

Re:Consequences? (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34122064)

When has Apple sued anybody because of negative comments regarding their comments?

That's just crazy talk.

Re:Consequences? (1)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 3 years ago | (#34122498)

That's already happened... and the Striesand effect seems to be quite the deterrent.

Re:Consequences? (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 3 years ago | (#34123508)

Well one would hope that if large numbers of companies started doing this the people would realize there's a problem with the way things are working and demand the laws be changed so that those lawsuits would be useless.

not stalking (5, Insightful)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120044)

By posting to these kinds of social sites these people have indicated that they want to be heard. I wouldn't call it stalking if you are doing exactly what the "target" is asking you to do.

Re:not stalking (2, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120062)

Yup, if you dont want people to know the information, dont post it publicly. Seems simple enough to me.

Re:not stalking (2, Insightful)

EveLibertine (847955) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120304)

Yup, if you dont want people to know the information, dont post it publicly. Seems simple enough to me.

So if I don't want to get stalked I... shouldn't go outside?

Re:not stalking (1, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120378)

No, you shouldn't post a list of your fears and locations where you'll be napping on the internet.

Re:not stalking (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120576)

Going outside isn't inviting people to follow you. Posting on a public social website is inviting people to read your post.

Re:not stalking (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34123988)

Going outside isn't inviting people to follow you. Posting on a public social website is inviting people to read your post.

You're lacking logical congruence. Why?

Going outside is participating in public space.

Posting on a social network is, too.

What objective criteria do you have for claiming otherwise?

Re:not stalking (0, Redundant)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120610)

Going outside isn't an invitation for someone to follow you. However posting a message in a public social website IS an invitation to read it.

Re:not stalking (-1, Troll)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120618)

Going outside isn't an invitation for someone to follow you. However posting a message in a public social website IS an invitation to read it.

Re:not stalking (-1, Troll)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120632)

So if I don't want to get stalked I... shouldn't go outside?

Going outside isn't an invitation for someone to follow you. However posting a message in a public social website IS an invitation to read it.

Re:not stalking (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34121332)

Hey, it works for the rest of us.

Re:not stalking (1)

kj_in_ottawa (838840) | more than 3 years ago | (#34122434)

Yup, if you dont want people to know the information, dont post it publicly. Seems simple enough to me.

So if I don't want to get stalked I... shouldn't go outside?

Or connect to networks. But wait, aren't networks Cisco's business? Perhaps they are just after the exhibitionist market.

Re:not stalking (2, Interesting)

opposabledumbs (1434215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120518)

Except that in some instances, the areas where these posts are being made are in what the posters deem to be a closed room, and I'm sure you'd be mad as hell if your comments in private are purposely eavesdropped.

Obviously there is a lack of control over this by most users, and maybe their understanding of the tech they're using is limited, but by posting something on a wall in facebook and thinking that only their friends can see it because those are their privacy settings does make it private to them.

I tend to take your advice for most things, but still, it's stifling to live constantly thinking about whether you can safely voice your opinion. And in my opinion, that is not exactly a free society, either.

Re:not stalking (1)

Diddy City (1934400) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120108)

i agree, the word stalking is greatly overused on social networks and in general these days. is to "follow" someone on twitter actually any different than subscribing to a person's youtube account? no, it just uses a creepier word.

Re:not stalking (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120220)

By posting to these kinds of social sites these people have indicated that they want to be heard. I wouldn't call it stalking if you are doing exactly what the "target" is asking you to do.

Asking to be heard is not the same thing as asking to be rigorously recorded, classified, categorized, and persistently contacted. You might be posting to Slashdot, a public Web site, but that doesn't mean you want every reader of your post to visit your home and knock on your door so they can hear you some more. Or at least, the assumption should be that you don't want that until and unless you say otherwise. So there are degrees to this, which also means there are reasonable levels and then there are extremes.

As an analogy, think of free speech. It has certain limitations. Within reason, you can say whatever you want in the USA because of the First Amendment. However, you may not just shout "FIRE!" in a theater when there is no fire, for example, because the harm this can cause outweighs your right to do it.

I think your rationale should also have reasonable limitations. Yes, you're posting in public to a social networking site. So does that mean anything goes? Any possible use or abuse of said postings are perfectly okay and should occur without any limitations whatsoever? Or is the right to access public information a right that should also have a few limits placed on how it is exercised?

I will say that if everyone understood the full power of tracking, monitoring, and database technology and knew with 100% certainty that it was going to be used against them every time they posted anything to any Web site, it would definitely have a chilling effect. Is the convenience of a few corporations worth a chilling effect on the general population? I don't believe so, not even when the chilling effect is merely a possibility.

For software and practices like what Cisco is promoting here, would it really be so unreasonable to legally require that they occur only with the fully informed consent of their targets and only on an opt-in basis? After all, if people really want this to happen then getting them to opt-in should be no problem. If inalienable, fundamental human rights can have reasonable limitations, why not the practice of tracking people who did not ask to be tracked?

Re:not stalking (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120564)

I think your rationale should also have reasonable limitations. Yes, you're posting in public to a social networking site. So does that mean anything goes? Any possible use or abuse of said postings are perfectly okay and should occur without any limitations whatsoever? Or is the right to access public information a right that should also have a few limits placed on how it is exercised?

No, not everything goes. But I would have no right to complain about someone reading / recording what I posted on a public website. If I didn't want people to see it I would have written it in my diary, not on some website.

Re:not stalking (1)

Faerunner (1077423) | more than 3 years ago | (#34123782)

When do you have the right to complain? Am I allowed to email you? Can I use your /. username as a Google search term, find someone under that name on another site, and follow them? Can I check for your profile on LinkedIn? Can I look you up in the phone book and call your home to discuss the comment you made?

Do I have to make contact for it to be stalking and harassment, or is there some critical mass of your posts on /. that I have to store before it starts getting creepy? Is it creepier if it's an individual rather than a company doing it?

When I post something online, whether it's to my blog or to /., I have expectations for that post's use. I expect that if it's copied it will be linked back to the original, I expect that it won't be used to market items to me (except where I have opted into the marketing), and I expect that no one's mining it for complaints related to their products. If I want to write a post bitching about my HP printer's waste of ink, I don't expect an HP rep to call me the next day and ask how they can improve the printer.

In some cases it would be useful to provide feedback via that kind of medium, but for most people most of the time, we aren't providing company feedback when we say HP printers suck because they use too much ink, and we don't expect HP to find that comment, track it, and offer assistance (not that they would, anyway - I suspect most complaints that people make outside the hearing range of the company they're complaining about are such things as would not be fixed even if the company knew about them, and there's a good chance the company already does).

Re:not stalking (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34121856)

Well, perhaps they would care more about protecting their identity. For example, if I post anything negative about, say, Microsoft here on Slashdot, then all they can tell is that someone who's using the nick "maxwell demon" on Slashdot has said something negative about them on Slashdot. While with a lot of research they could probably infer who I am, it's hard enough that it won't be worth for them for just a negative comment. I don't let Slashdot show my email address publicly (and I trust Slashdot not to reveal it behind the scenes either). I don't give any other personal details (name, homepage, ...). And I don't use the same nick on any other page.

Re:"hard enough" (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34123910)

What we're on the cusp of is the transformation between "hard enough" and "easy for Average Joe".

That's why FireSheep was so fun. It was a trick "everyone knew about" but wrote off as Too Hard. Seriously, it's "security through difficulty" and I'm as guilty of it as anyone.

But now we have a "systematic" campaign where everyone in any kind of power trying to connect their two particular dots so that when all 50 of them link up we get a Big Brother system - that *you* can't use (for National Security Reasons).

Overall I think it's the defining issue of the entire decade, and it won't stop until some event Too Big To Ignore traumatizes us into protecting privacy properly.

Re:not stalking (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34124012)

Well, perhaps they would care more about protecting their identity.

Understand that blaming the victim is counterproductive. You'd do as well to advocate that women wear burkas to avoid rape. But in real society we expect men to control their baser urges when confronted by bare flesh. Just as we can rightly expect data miners to control the same when exposed to data they didn't earn.

Re:not stalking (1)

silanea (1241518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34121958)

Twitter aside, people usually assume that their posts and comments stay within the context where they were published. I would not be too keen on having my Facebook account linked to my /. or ImageFap account, though I am comfortable with each context on its own. I would be sure to hammer every company that dared to 'helpfully' contact me because I voice my opinion about their products outside their official channels - or because they believe they have something to sell to me based on my online posts - with the legal equivalent of a ban hammer.

Besides, I am quite sure that Cisco's software, judging only from the summary, is illegal in many countries and in serious violation of the TOS of many, if not most social networking sites and online forums and communities.

I already hand out either company-specific e-mail addresses or one that I can throw away at any time when I have to give one to a company. I will not tolerate any intrusion on my 'private' (as in not used for commerce) online identity.

Re:not stalking (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34122062)

So you wouldn't mind if someone follows you around and stares at you all day, or even better records everything you do with a video camera? After all by being in a public place you have indicated that you want to be seen.

Re:not stalking (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 3 years ago | (#34122146)

This is what I've been telling people for years. If you make something visible on the internet then you also give up all rights to keep that information secret. The INTERNET IS PUBLIC.

I'm appalled at how many people I see running around complaining of "facebook stalking". It's not stalking if you put something in a publicly viewable area. It's like complaining that someone is reading the "wanted ad" you placed on a billboard in a common area.

Are CISCO crazy? (2, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120050)

"Cisco this week unveiled software designed to let companies track customers and prospects on social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other public forums and sites.

Are they inviting a lawsuit? These folks must be crazy! Anything that breaks the law by being used as the inventor intended breaks the invites a lawsuit. This is one such product Simple as that.

Re:Are CISCO crazy? (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120088)

Explain what law is being broken by reading information that people put out for public consumption.

Re:Are CISCO crazy? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120158)

Explain what law is being broken by reading information that people put out for public consumption.

Probably the same law that someone scanning for hotspots breaks when monitoring wireless access points owned and operated by stupid people.

Re:Are CISCO crazy? (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120208)

Not even close to the same thing. Putting your information on a public web site results in you having zero expectation of privacy. Much like if you put your wifi information in the paper.

Re:Are CISCO crazy? (1)

Airborne-ng (1391105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120664)

Thank you Kenja for bringing some enlightenment to those that apparently are most uninformed.....le sigh

Re:Are CISCO crazy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34122444)

You realize that facebook, blogs and forum posts are not nearly always public? This goes far beyond listening to public WiFi.

Re:Are CISCO crazy? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34122542)

Sending information over unsecured wifi into public space and sending information into a public webspace are effectively the same thing. Data is data. Why should it be different just because it's in the form of EMR rather than magnetic data on a server?

That said, this is still creepy. Illegal? Dunno, IANAL. But it's just as creepy as someone who goes to the public library and cuts out every news article containing you, follows you and takes pictures of you while you're walking down the street, notes every store you go into, and rummages through your garbage to get your receipts, and then puts it all in a scrapbook. All of those things are legal (with the possible exception of the pictures, again, IANAL), but dangit is it creepy.

Re:Are CISCO crazy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34123962)

you mean, like operating a public hotspot with no access mechanism? no passwords, no encryption, nothing? that was what the OP was saying and I fail to see the difference between that and your analogy.

Re:Are CISCO crazy? (1)

ikkonoishi (674762) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120456)

Companies have been doing this for years. Its just a tool which makes it easier. It looks for keywords posted to social network sites mentioning their products. They then have a CS rep join the conversation to offer assistance. It doesn't track individual customers at all. Mod the article -1 Alarmist rhetoric and move on with your life.

Re:Are CISCO crazy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34123094)

I guess somebody needs to create a tool to post thousands of generated CISCO bashing posts to random pages on all the sites so that they have something to mine for.

Re:Are CISCO crazy? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34121580)

This is just one of dozens of services already on the market for more than a year. Look up social aggregators.

Re:Are CISCO crazy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34121698)

What are CISCO thinking! Putting out products like this designed to monitor and stalk ordinary citizens will lower the value of their own trademark, when CISCO are associated with a draconian big brother attitude. Perhaps CISCO should monitor online conversations using an automated tool to be alerted about negative opinions.

Re:Are CISCO crazy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34121858)

Anything that breaks the law by being used as the inventor intended breaks the invites a lawsuit.

Try to use that defence when wielding a gun and I think you will discover that it does not work that way ...

Re:Are CISCO crazy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34122386)

Probably stalking laws.

Think about it - when you're out in public anyone can see what your doing and saying, right? Even so, we have laws in place that specifically prohibit following someone around in public places if they don't want you to. Do these laws translate to the online space? I don't know, but the public would expect them to, which probably means that they will at some point in the future if they don't already.

Re:Are CISCO crazy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34122772)

Also there is a patent on this a year or two ago (I recall reading it). Wasn't CISCO who owned it afair.

'service' should be in special quotes (5, Insightful)

jdogalt (961241) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120104)

"The software is designed to not only enable enterprises to monitor the conversations of their customers but to engage those that require service, Cisco says"

I think to get the creepiness quotient expressed properly, 'service' should be in special quotes there.

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120154)

"The software is designed to not only enable enterprises to monitor the conversations of their customers but to engage those that require service, Cisco says"

I think to get the creepiness quotient expressed properly, 'service' should be in special quotes there.

You can upgrade to their premium service and it will dig through your trash and call you randomly in the middle of the night and hang up.

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120184)

Nuts to that, I'll do that for free.

Rather, I'll keep doing that for free.

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (3, Funny)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120156)

I'll be damned if someone services my wife!

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (3, Funny)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120162)

Let alone engage her!

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120686)

Hmmmm.... Is it okay if your wife just services me?

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120372)

I'll be damned if someone services my wife!

More precisely, you'll be cuckolded if someone services your wife.

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (2, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120236)

I think to get the creepiness quotient expressed properly, 'service' should be in special quotes there.

This stuff is nothing new. [wsj.com]
I think its repugnant that a customer needs to make a public sqwak in order to get good service (and thus have your complaining be a permanent public record for data-mining corps). But, on the other hand, at least customers are now better enabled to sqwak in the first place.

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120646)

I think its repugnant that a customer needs to make a public sqwak in order to get good service

If you call my company and say you're not happy with our work, we come back out and make it right. If you never call us we never find out anything was wrong and you just bitch to your friends, we can't do that. If we can find out you're upset we can call you and say, "Hey, we heard you're not thrilled. We're sorry about that. Let us come fix it." It would be great if we were a big enough company for it to be worth the cost.

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34122614)

I think its repugnant that a customer needs to make a public sqwak in order to get good service

If you call my company and say you're not happy with our work, we come back out and make it right. If you never call us we never find out anything was wrong and you just bitch to your friends, we can't do that. If we can find out you're upset we can call you and say, "Hey, we heard you're not thrilled. We're sorry about that. Let us come fix it." It would be great if we were a big enough company for it to be worth the cost.

Same story with my small company, we want our customers to be successful, but we are not mind readers and can't help if we don't know about a problem. Google Alerts seems to be doing a decent job (for free) in helping me find comments/complaints/kudos that are posted somewhere publicly.

Old story--I was invited to a seminar at Interval Research (Paul Allen think tank) in the mid-1990's. The topic was something like, "Web Agents and What They Might Do". The presenters proposed many scenarios, most very complex (and, need I add, academic?) During the q & a session I asked about an agent that would find my name (company name), so I could find out what was being posted about me...

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34122678)

If you call my company and say you're not happy with our work, we come back out and make it right.

Your company is not all companies. My experience is that the regular drones are just as likely to not give a damn, or even worse feel that they are protecting their company's interests by minimising the response to a customer problem.

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34123164)

Sounds like every stalker who wants to fix things for the person of their 'interest'.

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34121636)

Cisco SocialMiner Virtual Voyeurcam 1.002 Report

201011031007 00000023 customer Jah-Wren-Ryel on Slashdot Your Rights Online Story revealed online business news source preference Wall Street Journal www.wsj.com

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34122668)

Correction: Revealed first hit in google to be Wall Street Journal.

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34123202)

No doubt it's related to that modern customer service paradigm - "if a customer has good service, they tell 2 people. if they get bad service, they tell 10 people"

Re:'service' should be in special quotes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34121768)

http://vm-ucoz.ucoz.ru/

For "Service", yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120106)

but to engage those that require service

Yeah, right. If they were worried about you getting good service, the TAC was a little more flexible with you not running the absolute newest version that was just released, work with you even though you don't have all of the debug logs from every switch between point A and B, and because they can not recreate the problem in the 5 minutes they "tried" it in their lab.

Any awareness program like this would be about PR and the sales department, not customer satisfaction after the sale.

Re:For "Service", yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34121370)

That's not true. My friend tweeted something about zen desk not working properly and zen desk automatically opened a bug and a human responded to his tweet inviting him to help them resolve his issue.

This kind of tech is really great at helping out those customers that have a problem but don't report it directly.

Doesn't matter to me (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120136)

As if I needed another reason to not have a facebook account. If there's not an anonymous option I just create a temporary fake account for whatever forum I'm wanting to comment on and then forget it. I have more hotmail, yahoo and gmail accounts than I can count. In the last 15 years I'll bet I've used hundreds of temp accounts.

Re:Doesn't matter to me (4, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120192)

As if I needed another reason to not have a facebook account. If there's not an anonymous option I just create a temporary fake account for whatever forum I'm wanting to comment on and then forget it. I have more hotmail, yahoo and gmail accounts than I can count. In the last 15 years I'll bet I've used hundreds of temp accounts.

I've run my own mail server for, well, probably close to twenty years now, and I just create addresses like "junk0001", "junk0002", etc. whenever I create an account on a site or forum that I don't trust. That also lets me see who is actually selling my personal information, and lets me easily block any spam that results. It's remarkable how many sites that claim "we don't sell or release any of your personal information to any third parties" do exactly that as soon as you click the SUBMIT button. I've literally had spam appear in my inbox from some of these throwaway accounts within minutes of my signing up for some forum or other. Everything from payday loan offers to V!agka. Fuckers.

I agree with you about Facebook. I don't have an account and am not ever likely to have one.

Re:Doesn't matter to me (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 3 years ago | (#34121364)

Many MTAs will accept "tags", where your actual address would be something like "barry@whitehouse.gov" but emails with "barry+junk0001@whitehouse.gov" would also get delivered just fine to Barry's account without any additional configuration. This allows you to use unique addresses for sites you don't trust without having to create additional addresses on the server. It works with GMail and MobileMe, and I know it works on Postfix as well.

Unfortunately it seems that many email validation scripts these days wrongly reject the "+" character for some reason.

Re:Doesn't matter to me (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 3 years ago | (#34123868)

Unfortunately it seems that many email validation scripts these days wrongly reject the "+" character for some reason.

Two reasons:
1) The folks writing those scripts don't know that "+" is an accepted character.
2) The folks writing those scripts decided to reject it to prevent you from using tags to tell that they've sold your email address.

Incompetence or Malice, run the razor whichever way you choose.

Re:Doesn't matter to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120226)

I couldn't agree more. As one of the few people left in the world without a Facebook account, I feel that I've missed nothing. Nothing but being stalked, targeted by dozens of virus attacks, leakage of my personal info, and potential harm to my reputation and livelihood. So all in all, not having a Facbook account has been a good thing for me. I'd find Jesus before I'd get a Facebook account, and trust me, that ain't happening.

So there are two of us then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34121926)

Who refuse to use Facebook, Twatter etc.

If I did feel that I HAD to sign up to them, it would be under an assumed name and with a throw away (ie Hotmail etc) email address. All the personal details I'd give would be phony. Just like those I gove to the telephone canvassers who call mostly when I'm just about to sit down to eat a meal.

So, for their beneift,
I'm 23, Single, 6ft tall, Female, Long blonde Hair, like classic Northern Soul and only drink white wine.

Re:Doesn't matter to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34122150)

As if I needed another reason to not have a facebook account. If there's not an anonymous option I just create a temporary fake account for whatever forum I'm wanting to comment on and then forget it. I have more hotmail, yahoo and gmail accounts than I can count. In the last 15 years I'll bet I've used hundreds of temp accounts.

As a fellow basement dweller, I agree. What's the point of Facebook if you have no friends?

I mean sure, mom sent me a friend request, but we live in the same house FFS.

Re:Doesn't matter to me (1)

punkmanandy (592682) | more than 3 years ago | (#34123084)

What is especially interesting is that google and microsoft can actually correlate the multiple accounts you have with each other, based on login/creation ip, referral email, and probably other characteristics. a few months ago there was a post on here linking to one of those companies' forensics guides explaining exactly that.

Re:Doesn't matter to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34123790)

link? searching reveals nothing

Isn't this what customers want, though? (3, Interesting)

Animaether (411575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120202)

Isn't this what customers want, though? I'm rather serious about that.

Say a company has a website and on that website they obviously have a news area, a contact page (perhaps even a listed e-mail address.. rare as that may be) and because they're not totally stuck-up, they also run a forum.

What happens?
People don't read that website for news.. not even if it had an RSS feed. They expect to get those updates from a Twitter feed.
People don't post to those forums. Why would they? It's probably small and won't get very many eyeballs, even if it -is- the official forum and they can get in touch with the actual business people / engineers there. They expect to just go @SomeCompany on Twitter and get their responses there.
People don't use the e-mail forms... again.. @SomeCompany on Twitter.

Substitute Twitter with facebook / youtube / vimeo in some scenarios.

Note that people will do this even if the company does -not- in fact have an account at these social networking sites. Heck, if nothing else, people will just complain on those sites about the lack of the company being on that site.

So I reckon this is exactly what people want. Even if it's not what they want, they in part brought this unto themselves.

And yes.. I realize that part of the reason is because it is oh-so-public. Blaming Company X for a problem with Product Y on Twitter tends to get re-tweeted and picked up right-quick. Saying so on the company's own forum tends to lead to relatively bland responses. So companies, too, brought this requirement to be on social networking sites unto themselves.

But certainly neither party should complain about the development of these tools (and Cisco's is hardly the first).

Re:Isn't this what customers want, though? (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 3 years ago | (#34122014)

Isn't this what customers want, though? I'm rather serious about that.

Not in the slightest. I've had companies jump out on me after a vague hint at their brand and say "can we help you? (because we want to hide any potential problem and make it look like we're always fantastic by virtue of shutting you up)" and I found it hugely creepy.

Note that people will do this even if the company does -not- in fact have an account at these social networking sites.

That's their own stupid fault. If I want to target things at company X then I find their account and reference them. If they don't have an account then I'd tell them directly *and* rant publicly. Then again, I'm not one of the drooling masses who thinks that Twitter is for telling the world what you had for breakfast.

(and Cisco's is hardly the first).

I agree. I know of services that have been developed to do this before. I think the ones I know of may have had some degree of sentiment analysis as well.

Re:Isn't this what customers want, though? (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 3 years ago | (#34123778)

I think it depends where they're doing this and how they respond. If they're posing as a normal user and astroturfing then I find it annoying. The good ones respond where it makes sense and clearly indicate they are from the company. For example, on Newegg you'll often see certain brands where a reviewer mentions problems with the product and there is a clearly indicated manufacturer response offering help with the issue (or sometimes straight up offering a replacement) and contact information. Patriot Memory tends to use this a lot.

Huh? Tech support via twitter? (2, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 3 years ago | (#34122116)

Are you serious? People expect companies to provide tech support via twitter? Maybe I'm getting to be an old fogey, but that strikes me as just plain weird... What do others think?

Re:Huh? Tech support via twitter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34123046)

Absolutely. If I have a problem with Comcast, I'll be damned if I'm going to wait on hold to talk to someone. I tweet "Comcast sucks" or "3 days without service and no help from Comcast." Within an hour - usually only minutes, I'll have a private message from Comcast's twitter customer service team who will then escalate the issue without me ever having to wait on hold. It's amazing how well it works. The first time, I didn't even know they had a Twitter response team, but now it's all I use.

Twitterfall (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120270)

How is this different from just opening up Twitterfall and searching for "cisco"?

Apple will steal Cisco's brand again (1)

microbee (682094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120320)

Just like iPhone, Apple will start rolling out iStalk soon.

I heard Apple has been testing it internally for a while. Those email replies from Steve Jobs' account really all came from a beta version of iStalk, not Jobs himself.

Caveat emptor (2, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120338)

Rule #1 of buying stuff: the vendor is not your "friend", on Facebook or otherwise.

Re:Caveat emptor (1)

martinX (672498) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120544)

But once you've bought stuff, they are where you turn to for service.

I belong to a professional forum that has specific areas for commercial equipment. People sign up with their real names. Behaviour is monitored, but posts are not moderated. Company reps (both sales and service, sometimes that's the same guy) sign up and answer questions as they can, in addition to conversations being held by users.

If people are having trouble, they like to help because (1) you want people to use the stuff they've bought and (2) a happy customer will tell people about great service and buy more stuff.

Re:Caveat emptor (0, Redundant)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120690)

Rule #1 of buying stuff: the vendor is not your "friend", on Facebook or otherwise.

Rule #2 of buying stuff: Don't buy from douches who spy on you.

Re:Caveat emptor (2, Informative)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120822)

Rule #1 of buying stuff: the vendor is not your "friend", on Facebook or otherwise.

Rule #2 of buying stuff: Don't buy stuff from douches who spy on you.

Now a word from our sponsor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120348)

This article brought to you by the good folks at Juniper Networks.

I've seen it in practice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120368)

Companies already do this manually, or with in-house software. A friend of mine had his guitar broken by an airline and made a YouTube video about it... no, not the really famous one you're thinking of, this is another guy with another broken guitar... anyway, the "Social Media Specialist" for the airline made a comment on his video to the effect of "talk to the baggage center and they'll make things right."

Larry Eillson of Orcal WANTS THIS NOW DAMIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34120596)

Sir Lar is on a tirade about being about to slalk customers and this "vapor ware" of Cisco is getting him into a masterbating rage.

Fire your customers (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34120808)

I can see this software being very useful to identify problem customers who incessantly complain, no matter what the cause. Such customers consume vast amounts of service resources all out of proportion to their numbers. When they attempt to sign up with your company, you can check if they're a bad customer. If their name comes up on the list, bam, their applications for service is declined. This will make them think twice before moaning and groaning that your product didn't come with a free ass-kisser or that the color didn't match their drapes.

the social ad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34121506)

In 90's and early 2000's the only way to connect with people or friends were through mailing lists, and then came orkut, facebook and a hell lot of sites where connection just became a byproduct to style. Every college or school kid, association members, tom, dick or harry is part of some social net. Over the time membership to these virtual spaces became necessity to connect with people rather than style.In 90's the fad phrases was 'text me' which after a decade became 'facebook me' or 'do an orkut'. The concept of social networking has evolved over the past decade. Although texting and emailing were considered revolutions, people generally were quite shy in sharing there information. Normally, accounts will be created using fake names (or cool names) and every one used to have multiple accounts also and among those only few were really used.Most of them were really skeptical or perhaps unintereseted in providing any valid personal information to any of these sites( hotmail, gmail etc) unless expected to be verified. Then came the social sites. In social sites you dont consider yourself as giving information to the sites but to your friends so that they can find you and connect. Provision of credentials became a necessity than an option. So what, its cool,its utility and everybody I know are doing that. Everybody thinks the same way and mostly ends up at the same place. Alongwith so many features and facilities, social sites come with a lot of side concerns. One among the biggest problem is that your profile with lot of credible inforamtion is out there. The credibility of your profile is again made valid by your friends connections. You usually wont keep back inforamation about yourself in social sites because thats made unnatural by the very definition. You always chat/tweet/facebook or whatever it is and let know your friends know whats going on. You will ardently enter into discussions and polls and let yourself known in that circle.But the circle usually is bigger than you think. The point is all the inforamtion about you, your interests and your history from your friends perspective is entered somewhere. A decade back online advertisement mainly concentrated on mailing lists ; however on a different dimension. The inforamtion about us, restricted to email addresses, were collected and stored and later used in multicast advertising(spam). This became non-existent over the time due to ineffectiveness, cost and prevention technologies(like filters). Its ineffective because you never know whether the right ad reached the right person, or even a person, and its costly because the increase in the sales with these means were very less. Google and many companies changed the field by targeted advertising. However, the ad is delevered only at the point of some interest. Lets say you googled for cars, google will push related advertisements only at that point of interest. This although created lots of reveniew for google, cant be considered as highly effective because most of us dint care much about the ads but the contents. Moreover, since add is placed per interest there is no way that the companies will come to know the context of our interest or our future interest, basically because they dont know who we are and what our interests are. Social sites will be the holy grail for any company looking for serious advertisements. There you will find people, their interests, plans and virtually anything that he or she has shared with his/er friends.So why this dint happen so far? How come, most of the time I am presented with a clean page with not even a shard of an ad ? Well, because these sites have to become a part of you and not a choice. Another reason should be that these sites should have enough members( critical mass)so that the advertisement oppurtunities are enough. I guess we are getting there now. Cisco alongwith many other companies including the sites (orkut or facebook) will defenitly be looking forward for cashing the cow.It might have taken a long time for building up the social network, but the return of interest is also that huge. From the node's point, lets hope the future wont turn too ugly with heavy ads and feedbacks.

Privacy problems aside (1)

Target Practice (79470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34121514)

This sounds like something companies already have happen, but pay some poor part-timer minimum wage to do. The part-timer has a slower parsing rate, but it's about the same.

In other words: what you put out on social websites is pretty much like what you put on any other website: open to bot scrutiny. I would expect nothing less from a completely free service. If you want privacy, pay someone money to provide you and yours with a contracted service for such.

Only thing new is the Cisco product (2, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 3 years ago | (#34122028)

I think the only new thing here is that Cisco has made a product out of it. I know of services that have done this before.

Personally, I don't like it. If I want the company to try to sweet-talk me into thinking their wonderfully fantastic then I'd contact them. If I wanted a problem solved then I'd try their tech support. If it isn't something that either of them can help with (like "how do you do X?" or "which are the best drivers for Linux?" or "this is terrible, has anyone else had the same problem?") then it goes somewhere public and I sure as hell don't want someone trying to astroturf the situation.

(plus 0ne Informative) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34122070)

ir3.easynews.3om [goat.cx]
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