Using Social Media to Be Charitable in 2010: A Case Study

Case In Point: Haiti Hurricane Relief

To better illustrate how you can use social media for your charitable goals, I thought it’d be a good idea to highlight social media and its involvement with the recent hurricane relief in Haiti. The situation is a perfect example of how social media is connecting people to a cause they’re interested in. Here’s how:

Twitter: The number of organizations using Twitter to spread the word of relief efforts is too high to count. A good example – the Red Cross.  According to Nielsen, the Twitter account for the Red Cross has gained more than 10,000 followers since the earthquake (as compared to its usual growth of 50 to 100 per day). The Red Cross continues to tweet about how people can help out. Its biggest campaign, a texting fundraiser (a user texts HAITI to 90999 and a $10 charge as a donation is added to your phone bill), has been highly successful. Within a week of initiating the campaign, more than $8 million was raised for relief efforts via this texting campaign.

President Barack Obama is even using Twitter to help raise awareness. In his supposedly first tweet ever, President Obama sent a message from the Red Cross’s disaster operation center. (Note: I’ve gotta give the Red Cross more kudos – they also have a blog, an online newsroom, and in addition to using Twitter are involved on Facebook, Flickr and YouTube)

Musician Wyclef Jean (born in Haiti), among other celebrities, is also using texting and Twitter to raise money. Right after news of the earthquake hit, Wyclef tweeted to his nearly 1.4 million followers: “Please text ‘Yéle’ to 501501 to donate $5 to Yéle Haiti. Your money will help with relief efforts. They need our help.” This message was retweeted in the days following (and is still being retweeted!), along with a Twitter video he posted about relief efforts. “Yele” was even on the top of Twitter’s Trending Topics list at one point.

Facebook: The Red Cross is not alone in its Facebook efforts. The Causes application has helped users donate funds to the relief effort. According to CNET, Joe Green, founder of Facebook Causes, posted a video of the destruction in Haiti. The Causes page also provides links to donate as well as a ranking of the members who have shared the video the most. The Oxfam American group is raising awareness about relief efforts and helping people donate. They had had 117,000 fans at the start of the week of the 18th and as of that date the group’s Cause application had raised more than $110,000 for the Haitian quake relief.

Craigslist: The site posted a list of relief organizations, mentioning (in addition to Oxfam and Red Cross) Doctors Without Borders and CARE.

Donate photo courtesy Flickr user Mindful One. Some rights reserved.

Social Media For New Year’s Resolutions – Part Three: Using Social Media to Help Others

*Note* This entry is part three of my blog posts in the 2010 series, Social Media For New Year’s Resolutions, as explained in this post.

So you’ve made a resolution this year to help others – good for you! You’re not alone, either. E-Philanthropy is on the rise (it grew 4% in 2008 and is growing each year) and it’s no surprise why – social media provides nonprofits, charities and other organizations or causes the ability to tap into a large, focused and connected network. Whether it’s donating your money or your time, social media can help you connect with the charities and causes you’re looking for.

 

Some tools you may find useful:

Good search: If you’re anything like me, you use Google (or Bing if that’s your fancy) on a daily, nearly hourly, basis. Wouldn’t it be great if searching online actually helped someone out? It can – check out GoodSearch.com. A do-gooder friend of mine showed me this site in college, and I’m glad to see it’s still up and running. It’s easy too – you choose a charity you support, search the web as usual, and they donate to your cause each time you search. You can add a Good Search toolbar to your browser to make searching (and donating) even easier.

Facebook Causes: Facebook describes its Causes Application as such: “Causes provides the tools so that any Facebook user can leverage their network of real friends to effect positive change.” Causes is a Facebook app that allows nonprofits (any U.S. registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit or Canadian registered charity) to raise money and alert Facebook users about the issues facing their organization today. If you’re looking to use social media to directly learn about a cause, hear what your networks or saying and/or donate directly, I suggest you browse the causes available.

If you’re sick of Facebook, there are other social networking sites that you can use to show your support and talk with others about a cause. Check out Care2 and Change.org to learn about issues and raise money for the charity of your choice.

YouTube: YouTube is so much more than laughing babies and drugged children coming home from the dentist. [Check out my post entitled YouTube…Why You Should Take It Seriously for some proof] If you’re a visual learner, why not use YouTube to get involved with a charity?  If there’s a charity you’re particularly interested in, you can search YouTube to see what they say about themselves. You may learn something you didn’t know about them or find out about a new campaign. Or, check out the full listing of Nonprofits on YouTube and see which ones interest you. Some YouTube channels even let you donate to them right on their YouTube page via Google Checkout (see the pages of Autism Speaks and the ONE Campaign for examples).

Get Involved! There are some great sites that can let you know where help is needed and how you can help. Check out DoSomething.org and VolunteerMatch for an ever-growing list of local volunteer opportunities. Idealist.org also has a listing of volunteer openings, in addition to its record of paying jobs at non-profits.

Beware:

Because of the lowered transparency level that comes with social media, you’ve got to be careful about donating your money – you don’t want to be scammed. Never ever give your credit card information (or any other private info) to an organization or a cause you’ve never heard of – and always be wary of providing personal information you wouldn’t need to give out in real life (e.g. social security number, etc.). [Sidebar: Check out this post I wrote about a common Money Order scam on Craigslist] If something feels wrong, it probably is – trust your gut. The San Francisco Chronicle just did a nice piece on what to look out for when donating to Haiti relief funds, but the tips apply to all charities.

Speaking of Haiti relief funds, the use of social media for the recent Haitian hurricane relief is a great case in point. Stay tuned for a post about that!

Social Media For New Year’s Resolutions – Part Two: Using Social Media to Get More Sleep

*Note* This entry is part two of my blog posts in the 2010 series, Social Media For New Year’s Resolutions, as explained in this post.

Another popular New Year’s Resolution is to get more sleep.* It may seem counter-intuitive that social media can help you get more sleep; after all, doesn’t staying up and playing on the Internet actually prevent you from going to bed and getting that sleep you need? (Especially you – estivator – who commented on my resolution introductory blog post past midnight!) In reality, it may not. A recent study, as highlighted in this University of New Hampshire news release shows that social media use does not affect students’ sleeping habits — so why should it affect yours?

Not only does social media NOT hurt your sleeping habits, but it can actually HELP you get more sleep. Here’s how:

1.  Social media can provide the education you need to get more sleep: If you look carefully, there are plenty of sources of information about what exactly a good night’s sleep is, how to get it, etc. A good resource that I like is The Insomnia Blog, by Dr. Michael Breus, who also has a Twitter Account. Another informative sleep account to check out on Twitter is the Sleep Foundation.

2.  Social media holds you accountable! If you make it a goal for yourself to get more sleep and share this goal with others – wouldn’t you feel like you’re letting them (and not just yourself) down when you reported a failure? Take, for example, what Arianna Huffington from the Huffington Post and Cindi Leive from Glamour are doing – they’re taking their New Year’s Resolution to get more sleep to the next level by blogging about it and calling it the Sleep Challenge 2010.

Arianna introduces her challenge on her latest blog post (an excerpt of which I’ve included below):

As women, we make a lot of New Year’s resolutions — “lose 10 pounds” and “finally write that novel” and “lose 10 pounds — seriously.” But this year, the two of us (that’s HuffPost‘s Arianna Huffington and Glamour‘s Cindi Leive) are suggesting you make a New Year’s resolution that could improve the status of all women in this country, starting with you … If you ask us, the next feminist issue is sleep. And in order for women to get ahead in this country, we’re all going to have to lie down and take a nap …

We’re saying no to the zombie side of things and, as of January 4, resolving to get a full night’s sleep every night for a month … Inspired? Then join our one-month sleep challenge. We’ll be blogging on glamour.com and the Huffington Post every Monday and Thursday about how our quest for more sleep is going. You’ll get tips from health experts like Dr. Michael Breus and answers to some of your own personal questions about how to work more sleep into your life.

3.  Social media provides the tools you need to make sure you’re getting a better night’s sleep. I haven’t been able to look too deeply into any of these, but would love to check out:

  • Yawnlog: This site tracks the number of hours you sleep each night and charts your progress for you so you can look at patterns over time (and relate it to how you feel each day/week/etc.). It also lets you log and tag dreams. If you want, you can also use the site to see how many hours your friends are sleeping and what they’re dreaming about too.
  • iPhone Apps: There are so many cool apps for your iPhone (and hopefully soon, Droid!) to help you sleep better. The Sleep Cycle App (via LifeHacker) supposedly can tell how deep of a sleep you’re in so that you’re only awoken from a light slumber, therefore feeling more rested. A Good Night’s Sleep iPhone App (via iPhone Application List) provides a series of sounds and music for you to fall asleep to and also has a feature to “gently awaken users,” to ensure a “gradual, peaceful start to each day.”
  • Another new add-on for your iPhone: Check out the iHome+Sleep: This “social music alarm clock” was just announced at the recent CES. It’s an iPhone app that works with a whole new line of home music players. It has some really cool features, including “Sleep Cards,” which let you set different alarm templates with their own settings, such as certain settings for weekends, etc. Another cool feature for us social media geeks – you can wake up to your favorite RSS feed, or a list of what your Facebook and Twitter friends were doing during the night (thus allowing you to sleep soundly knowing you’re not missing anything!). Another way the iHome+Sleep helps you sleep better? According to Macworld.com, think of the product as “the Nike + iPod Sport Kit, except, you know, for sleeping.” Its unique feature, Sleep Stats, lets the user “view a running record of the times you sleep, naps you record, and average hours of bedtime and per-night sleeping. If you’re find yourself dragging and exhausted every now and then, this might be a great way to help track down a possible reason.”

If you find any other cool ways to use social media to help you get a better night’s sleep, let me know.

*Disclaimer: I work for a client in the sleep industry. While they’re not related to any of the services mentioned above, they still lead me to know of and want to stress the importance of a good night’s sleep!

Social Media For New Year’s Resolutions – Part One: Using Social Media for Weight Loss

*Note* This entry is part one of my blog posts in the 2010 series, Social Media For New Year’s Resolutions, as explained in this post.

I’m pretty sure that one of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions each year is to lose weight. And while I give kudos to those who are trying to get healthy and better their lives, I can’t stand how crowded the gym gets this time of year! But enough with my rant – if you’re one of those people who uses January 1st as the time of year to get in shape, now that mid-January is here, you may find yourself slacking off. And you may not know – there’s more to getting in shape and losing weight than just diet and exercise. That’s right, in my non-medical view (disclaimer- I am in no means a weight loss/diet/exercise doctor or professional), social media can play a big role in your journey to getting fit.

Losing weight and getting in shape is all about motivation and accountability. Social media can help you with all of that. Here’s how:

  1. Social media is all about sharing. If you’re sharing your progress with people (whether it’s your workout, what you’ve eaten, or how much you weigh) you’re being held accountable and are then more likely to stick with your resolution.
  2. Social media helps you meet and connect with other people. If they’re trying to lose weight also, they can help provide motivation. You can motivate them – they can motivate you and you won’t feel so alone on your journey.
  3. There are so many cool social media tools out there that make counting calories, finding recipes, finding workouts, and everything else associated with weight loss both easier  AND funner! Here are some of my favorite tools, created specially for your journey to getting fit:

Dailymile is one of my favorite exercise-related sites [I’ve raved about it before in this post]. It’s an online community for people to share their fitness habits. I use it to track runs (it lets me map my runs, track them, etc.), ask questions of the community, participate in challenges to motivate myself, find races, see what other people are doing, etc. It also is integrated with Twitter and Facebook so that you can brag about your workouts inspire others. The site is relatively new and they keep coming up with new fun things to add to the site and inspire you. For example, they sent me this training report that sums up all of my 2009 runs. If that’s not motivation to do even better in 2010, I don’t know what is!

Sparkpeople is an online community for people trying to lose weight, get healthy, etc. You can join groups, challenges, find recipes, track your calories and food intake, find new workouts, track your exercises, track different goals, etc. There’s so much you can do here and it’s a great all-in-one tool for someone looking to eat healthier, workout more and lose weight.

Honorable mention – Nike Plus: I used to love my Nike+ – it was a small add-on that I plugged into my iPod and it kept track my runs. When I plugged in my iPod to my computer, it logged my runs for me online in the Nike+ community, which, like Dailymile, has challenges, reports, races, etc. My gripe? The tracking was inaccurate and inconvenient for me. I’m not sure why, but no matter how many times I synced my Nike+ up on a treadmill, it always ended up being a tenth of a mile or so off when I would run outside. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but when I was training for the half marathon, those tenths could add up to be whole miles! Also, I’d have to plug my iPod into my computer to get any data – and that’s not something I do on a regular basis and isn’t convenient for me to do on my phone, at a remote computer, etc. I also found it would lose my workouts every so often, and not let me manually log in anything (like I can do with Dailymile). I know lots of people who love the Nike+ community – so just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean you should give it a go!

Here’s a list of some other sites that people have found helpful – it’s a decent sized list from a few years ago, but many are still around.

In addition to using these sites, I’ve also found that many non-weight loss related social media tools can be helpful anyway. Here’s how:

Twitter: There’s a whole weightloss community on Twitter- just search for them! The most popular that I know of, #Twit2Fit, now has its own Ning site.

Foursquare: Just knowing that I can become the mayor of my gym motivates me to go there more! I’ve just recently joined this location-based social networking site, but I am already determined to log more visits at my gym than at Chipotle.

YouTube: I’ve found SO many exercise videos on YouTube. No kidding, but on some occasions you can find me in my basement doing yoga, per instruction from a YouTube video. Just look – it’s there!

New Year . . . New Blog Posts

It’s that time of year again- New Year’s Resolution time! I’m usually against resolutions- I rarely make them (I can’t think of one year I have) as I am more inclined to believe that you can better yourself and make improvements any time in your life (or during the year), rather than putting a tremendous amount of pressure on yourself at the beginning of the year.

I know I am a rare bird (as my coworker and fellow blogger estivator would say) and probably the only one who feels this way, so in recognition of this, and for all you New Year’s Resolutioners out there- these posts are for you. I am doing a series on Social Media for New Year’s Resolutions. What’s your New Year’s Resolution, and how can social media help you accomplish this goal? From doing some research and talking with friends, I’ve got a pretty good list of some popular resolutions, so in the pipeline (but not finalized … Or created yet) are:

Social Media to help you … [insert resolution here]

If you have another resolution or know of anyone else who does (and wants to use social media to help them to reach their goal) – let me know! Stay tuned for part one of this series . . .

Halloween … Meet Social Media

I love Halloween. Dressing up in costumes is always fun, especially when you have someone to share your costume with. This year, one of my coworkers said to me, “Hey you and B should go as the Twitter bird and the Fail Whale for Halloween!” I couldn’t help but laugh. No, I’m not going as the Twitter bird (And B- would never go as the Fail Whale), but it made me wonder – what are some good social media costume ideas?

Luckily, I didn’t have to look far. Social media people have been talking about costumes for Halloween a ton this past week. There are a bunch of sites with ideas, and here are my 5 favorites:

FailWhale CostumeSocial Media Expert: Talk nonstop about your numerous friends and connections and how you know everything about how to get friends and want to share this information with everyone else. Repeat what you have said multiple times, especially about how you can offer tips on how YOU TOO can be an expert (via David Griner).

The Fail Whale and the Twitter Bird: Various websites (including David Griner and InventorSpot) have suggested going as the Fail Whale for Halloween, but why not take my colleague’s suggestion and make the costume perfect for couples? Fail Whale chases Twitter bird all night and may shout “Fail!” See picture (left) from InventorSpot for a sample costume.

facebook-halloween-costumeFacebook: If you’re down to the last minute and still don’t have any costume ideas, don’t take the easy way out and show up without a costume. Why not go as your Facebook page? All it takes is a big piece of poster board with your profile filled out, and perhaps a place for you to stick your head in (where your Facebook photo would go). Bonus points for poking people all night.

iphonedogiPhone: Why should you have all the fun on Halloween? Don’t leave out your pet – instead, create a fun social media costume for Fido. I love the iPhone costume for your dog (or yourself!) – so cute! (image from The River Current)

facebookfairyThe Facebook Fairy: This is a more obscure, slightly nerdier costume (Because only true social media people will get it), but remember the bank intern who said he couldn’t work because of a “family emergency,” and then his boss found his Halloween party pictures (a fairy costume, nonetheless) on Facebook that same day? Why not dress in a similar fairy costume, wear a “Bank Intern” name tag and see if anyone knows who you are? Hey, when else do you get an excuse to wear wings?

For more ideas or to see some of the places that helped me make my list, visit:

Feel free to share some of your costume ideas. What’s the best (social media or not related) costume you’ve seen so far?

YouTube … Why You Should Take It Seriously

I think a lot of people don’t take YouTube seriously. After all, how many of us associate YouTube with videos like “laughing baby,” “David after dentist” and “Will it Blend?” But  I think YouTube can be very useful for an organization when creating and maintaining its web presence. That’s why I was excited when I was asked to present on YouTube for Nonprofits at a luncheon yesterday with some of my other coworkers (who presented on other social media topics).

Are you also a YouTube naysayer? Do you believe that it’s “just for kids”? Well, to set the record straight (and so you don’t feel left out if you missed my presentation yesterday), I wanted to share with you some statistics and some tips on how to use YouTube – especially if you’re a nonprofit.

Think YouTube is just for kids? Some stats for you to keep in mind (from a Pew Internet Report)

  • The share of online adults who watch videos on video-sharing sites has nearly doubled since 2006
  • 62% of adult internet users watch video online (on a site such as YouTube)
  • 41 % of internet users ages 50-64 watch video online
  • 27% of internet users ages 65 and older watch video online

Clearly, there are more than just young folks checking out videos online and surfing YouTube. So what can you do?

Here are 5 tips for using YouTube, especially for nonprofits.

1) Create a Channel and Make It Yours

The first thing you should do when you decide to create a YouTube presence for your organization is to create and customize your own channel. Upload videos and create playlists. Write a succinct bio about your organization and link back to your website. Add a customized banner (perhaps with your organization’s logo and tagline) and background image. Your visual identity on YouTube should reflect your presence on your other channels (like your website), so your audience can easily recognize you.

2) Upload Your Own Videos and Favorite Others

Don’t feel like you need to immediately populate your channel with hundreds of videos. The best videos often aren’t just “talking heads” or interviews with your organization’s CEO. They tell a story – about your organization, who you’ve helped, what you do. Two to three good videos are better than fifteen boring ones that your subscribers won’t watch. Also, you don’t need a lot of original content to create a YouTube channel. Besides populating your channel with your videos, you can create playlists and favorite other people’s videos. If you stand for a popular cause, chances are you’re not the only one who has created a related video. Search for, rate and favorite other related videos that.

3) Collect Donations

Use YouTube’s call-to-action overlay to link directly on your video to an external donation site or your website. You can also add a “donate” box on your channel page to let people donate to your organization through Google Checkout.

4) Showcase Your Events

Do you host fundraising events? YouTube can be a great way to share events with those who are unable to attend and attract future attendees. You can create a video of the event highlights and upload it to your channel. The video should be no longer than three to five minutes and doesn’t need to be overly edited or produced. Tell your attendees at the event to be on the lookout for the new video(s) on your channel. If you plan on sending a thank you email to attendees, be sure to provide a link to your channel so guests can watch the video and share it with their friends.

5) Integrate Video with All of Your Social Media

Use your other social media involvement to drive traffic to your videos and your YouTube channel. If you’re using Twitter, tweet when you upload a video. Post your videos to your Facebook fan page. In your profiles on other social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Flickr, provide not only a link to your nonprofit’s home page, but also to your YouTube channel (and other social media sites). If you have an e-newsletter, link to your channel there. The more ways you share your YouTube presence with your existing networks, the more traffic you’ll drive to your channel.

Man’s Wife Featured In Facebook Dating Ad

hotsinglesA man was surfing Facebook and noticed an ad on his screen (you know, where the annoying “Lose 10 lb in one week on the Angelina Jolie diet” ads are?) that said “Hot singles are waiting for you!!” This would have been normal, except for the fact that the woman pictured in the ad was of this guy’s wife!

How did this happen? Was the woman working for the dating service? Had she, herself, signed up for the dating service? Nope – it all had to do with Facebook Applications’ Privacy Settings, which are set (by default) to allow YOU to be featured in THEIR ads! That’s right — Facebook has the right to use your photo in ads unless you opt out.

Yet more proof that by default, Facebook owns everything you have ever posted….and more reason to always update your Privacy settings!

If you don’t want to appear in one of Facebook’s ads (I know that I don’t want my belly featured in one of those BEFORE weight loss ads!!), here’s what you have to do:

  1. On the top of your Facebook page, scroll over Settings. Click on Privacy Settings.
  2. Click on News Feed and Wall.
  3. Then click on the tab reading Facebook Ads.
  4. In the Appearance in Facebook Ads box, select No One.

fb ads

I just checked and sure enough, my settings were set up so that I had to opt out. I wonder if I’ve already appeared in ads for some of my friends? I guess I’ll never know!

Seller Beware: Popular Craigslist Scam

We all know that you need to be careful using social media. After last week’s announcement that Tagged.com was used as part of a big phishing and identity theft scam (see articles: 60 Million Stung in Social Networking Rip-off and Tagged.com Will Spam Your Friends and Family), it’s probably time for a reminder to be always use caution and be smart when using social media.

An rule of thumb when trying to figure out if you’re falling for a social media scam, is to ask yourself, “Would this be normal in real life?” For example, if you get a Facebook message from your stern but very articulate co-worker that says “Check out these pics heehe <link here> ;)” it probably is NOT something you should click on!

A prime example – my uncle almost got scammed from a Craigslist user last week. My uncle was selling a mattress for $300 and found a buyer who agreed to sending money via MoneyGram. The buyer sent a money order worth $1700 (with the excuse “My partner somehow overpaid you”), told my uncle to deposit the money order and then send back the remaining $1400 that they had overpaid.  Sound fishy? That’s because it is.

Here’s an excerpt from some of the conversations my uncle had with the buyer. Note: All are from the buyer, to my uncle.

Hello,

How are you doing,i hope you are fine and alright.I have been busy myself but doing great.There is something i think i must bring to your notice.After a reconciliation of my account,i discovered that somehow my partner must have over paid you.The payment that was meant for another transaction was sent to you and the one meant for you was sent to another,however i want to believe i wont have a problem with you.

Please once you receive your payment,i will like you to deduct your money and send the remaining via moneygram to the manager of the shipping company that will help me with the pickup.I will provide the info you need to complete the moneygram transfer once you receive payment.Thanks once again for your understanding.

Warm regards.

*********************************************************

After you’ve deducted your item cost you are to send teh remaining balance to the mover’s…..Keep me posted.
Thx.
*********************************************************

Morning, How are you doing?Sorry i get back to you this late have been very busy.Am happy to let you know that the payment will be deliver to you today by a ups delivery guy.The tracking # for your payment is (1Z235T732596208661) you can check the tracking # @ http://www.ups.com/us to confirm the exact time it will be deliver to you.

Immediately you receive the payment this morning i want you to take the payment to your bank and have it cashed,you will deduct your item cost and send the remaining balance to the mover’s who will be coming for the pickup at your address.

I got in touch with the moving company concerning pickup and they told me to get words with you as to know when you will be available for them to effect pickup after they have receive their fund.They gave me their information that will enable the fund gets to them via MoneyGram Tranfer and below is the information of the Account Manager where you will send the funds to after you have received the payment.Use part of the remaining balance to pay for the MoneyGram Transfer fee.

Receiver’s Full Name : Susan Chavarry.

City : Denver.

State : Colorado.

Zipcode : 80274.

Country : United States.

After making the payment,you will have to send me the following informations about the transfer so that i can forward it to them.

Money Tranfer Reference Number:
Senders Name and Address:
Total Amount you send:

I will wait to hear from you upon receipt of this email.I want the item to be pickup on before saturday.

Expecting to hear from you soon.

*********************************************************

just want to update you that the payment has been delivered to your resident. As soon as you received it, kindly take it to your bank and cash.Once the payment as been cashed, deduct your item cost price plus the $30 for holding and send the remaining balance to the shipping company via MoneyGram Transfer to the information i emailed you earlier, deduct the MoneyGram charges on the remaining money you are sending. Hope to hear from you as soon as possible.

Have a pleasant day!

Something that immediately stands out as suspicious to me is the large amount of typos in the emails (I’ve noticed a lot of spam emails tend to do this), but the “buyer” also includes an actual name and city/state, which makes it seem genuine. Here’s a look at the actual money order checks my uncle received. They look good — good enough to fool a bank at first glance too.

craigslist money order

Luckily my uncle realized in time that this was a SCAM. Scammers send fake money orders worth more than the product, then ask the person to send the change back. Banks often will deposit the money orders at first, so you think they are real, and it is only after you send the “buyer” the money (in this case $1400) that the bank processes the money orders and realizes they are fake — penalizing you AND you’ve already lost the money you’ve sent to the “buyer.”

Craiglist is aware of this scam and even warns its users AGAINST taking money orders. See  #4 on its list of popular scams.

Again, please be careful when using social media. Don’t click on unsuspicious links, and be wary of deals that sound too good when using shopping sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.  Do you have any scams or near-misses to share?

Facebook Vanity URL Saga: Part Three

After all the chatter about the Facebook vanity URLs, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I did not, as I suggested I would, stay up until midnight with the rest of the nerds world on Friday night, waiting to get my very own FB username. I went to bed early because I was running a 5k Saturday morning, and my rest seemed more important at the time.

I also did not race to facebook.com Saturday morning to get my URL. I forgot about it until (*Gasp*) Sunday night – and went then. Luckily, my name isn’t the most popular one out there, or at least not super popular among tech geeks Facebook users, I was still able to get it.

If you’re like me, and you forgot to get your own URL, don’t worry-  it may still be there. You can use this form to check the availability of your vanity URL or sign into your Facebook account. They’ve conveniently reminded you to choose your URL once you log in.

Did anyone experience any problems obtaining their username? Were there network overloads to those who stayed up until midnight? Did any of the mass chaos as predicted here occur?