BUYING OR SELLING YOUR DWELLING DONATE WISELY AND AVOID SCAMS PROS AND CONS OF SOCIAL MEDIA EXPRESS YOURSELF WITH A GIF SUMMER 22 The World’s #1 Internet Magazine WebsiteCompass
www.canyonbakehouse.com ® -Christi Skow /Co-owner Diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007 kosher parve Introducing our Artisan-made, soft and delicious, San Juan 7-Grain bread! At Canyon Bakehouse, our bakery is dedicated gluten free, and we’re devoted to making delicious and nutritious bread. Our unhurried Artisan process and our carefully chosen ingredients give our products the flavor and texture you’ ll love. From our San Juan 7-Grain bread to our one-of-a-kind focaccia—you’ ll find a Canyon favorite for you and your whole family. Available online and at a growing number of supermarkets. “I no longer see celiac disease as something that limits me, instead I see it as a healthier way to eat and live.” This is when you realize your gluten-free diet is going to be just fine.
WebsiteCompass 1 8 Contents WebsiteCompass 18 Website Compass™ is a publication of Cornerstone Publishing Group, Inc. 4815 Caravelle Drive Fort Collins, CO 80526 970-818-5012 ISSN 1525-951X No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, electronic, photocopying, recording, mechanical, or otherwise without prior written permission of the publisher. Website Compass™ is a trademark of Cornerstone Publishing Group, Inc. Copyright© 2022 by Cornerstone Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. TRADEMARKS – All brand names and product names used in this publication are trade names, service marks, trademarks, or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Website Compass magazine is an independent magazine and is not affiliated with, nor has it been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Microsoft Corporation, Google, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. All screen shots are the property of their respective owners. ADVERTISERS – To obtain advertising information, contact: Cornerstone Publishing Group, Inc. 4815 Caravelle Drive Fort Collins, CO 80526 970-818-5012 INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS – To obtain additional information about distribution of Website Compass magazine to your internet subscribers and a free customized online version of Website Compass, contact: Shane Petersen Cornerstone Publishing Group, Inc. 4815 Caravelle Drive Fort Collins, CO 80526 970-818-5012 firstname.lastname@example.org Cornerstone Publishing Group, Inc. (the Author and Publisher) as well as any participating Internet Service Provider Partners hereby disclaim all warranties relating to Website Compass magazine or its website, whether expressed or implied, including without limitation any implied warrantied of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Although the Author and its ISP Partners believe the information provided is accurate, neither party claims responsibility for any damage or loss of data to a user’s computer caused by utilizing this information. The Author and its ISP Partners will not be liable for any special, incidental, consequential, indirect, or similar damages due to loss of data or any other reason when utilizing information/tutorials from Website Compass magazine or its websites. In no event shall the Author or ISP Partner be liable for any damages, regardless of the form of the claim. The person using the information contained in Website Compass magazine bears all risk as to the use of the information provided. Cornerstone Group is not responsible for the quality, performance, or reliability of third-party tools or software. Social icon Circle Only use blue and/or white. For more details check out our Brand Guidelines. Social icon Circle Only use blue and/or white. For more details check out our Brand Guidelines. 2 10 16 13 FEATURE STORY 2 Buying or Selling Your Dwelling Know what to expect as you navigate today’s housing market INTERNET CONNECTIONS 8 Affordable Connectivity Program Helps Households Connect You, or someone you know, may qualify for an internet discount SOCIAL MEDIA BASICS 10 Pros and Cons of Social Media Navigate these platforms wisely so they do the most for you BACK TO BASICS 13 Express Yourself with a GIF Add interest to social media posts, texts, emails, and more BEYOND THE BASICS 16 DonateWisely and Avoid Scams Learn to distinguish between legitimate charities and fraudulent ones FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 18 Ask Dr. Webbie Answers to your internet questions A TO Z 19 Internet Glossary Words and definitions Tutorials in This Issue 12 How to Minimize the Downsides of Social Media 15 How to Use a GIF on an Android Device 15 How to Use a GIF on an iOS Device
BUYING OR SELLING YOUR DWELLING Know what to expect as you navigate today’s housing market In the following pages, we explore current real estate trends and share advice from the experts. You’ll discover why more people are moving to smaller cities, what home features are sought after most, how both buyers and sellers can take advantage of current market conditions, and whether historically low mortgage rates are here to stay. Buyers will want to check out the section about smart home technology to learn what gadgets to look for during home tours, and sellers will want to review what not to do when selling a home. Everyone will find something useful in the content offered by the featured real estate websites and apps. So, no matter where you’re moving to or from, and regardless of where you are in the process, take a tour of this article to get dozens of tips for achieving real estate success. Anyone who pays attention to the headlines knows that real estate prices are up, mortgage rates are affordable, and housing inventory is low. But what does all this mean if you’re planning to buy or sell a home this year? QUICK TIP: If you can wait until late summer to do your house hunting, you might end up with a better deal. 2 WebsiteCompass
WebsiteCompass 3 The housing market is always changing, depending on many factors including people’s needs and the state of the economy. Whether you’re buying or selling, here are the trends to watch for in 2022. Understanding Current Real Estate Trends Sellers’Market Limited inventory means buyers are competing more than ever and should be prepared to compromise on features or offer more than the asking price. Rocket Homes offers advice on getting your offer accepted at rockethomes.com/blog/ home-buying/how-to-get-offer-acceptedin-sellers-market. Rising Prices While the rate of rising home costs has slowed, prices are still going up. Sellers can make a nice profit and should wait for the right offer to come along. Low Mortgage Interest Rates Mortgage interest rates fell to record lows in 2020 and 2021. They’ve been rising in 2022 but are still low enough to push some home buyers into the market who might have felt they couldn’t afford a mortgage before. Online Real Estate Services Like most other things these days, real estate services can be found online. They include third-party buyers such as Opendoor (opendoor.com), virtual agents, and mobile or online closings. Alternative Buying Options The conventional home-buying process may not work for everyone. In those cases, buyers can rent to own or consider a down payment loan. Smaller Cities High housing prices in major cities can be avoided by looking further afield. Smaller cities often provide many of the same amenities and conveniences but with smaller home prices. MoneyGeek offers good examples at moneygeek.com/living/ best-mid-sized-cities-for-making-a-living. Flexible Space Homebuyers are looking for rooms that can serve more than one purpose, such as a basement room that can be an office during the week and a playroom on weekends. Home Features That Support Mental Health If the years 2020 through 2022 have been rough for you, you’re not alone. The challenges we’ve faced, along with the stay-at-home habit some people continue to maintain even as the pandemic recedes, have prompted homebuyers to look for features that support mental health. They include: • Spa-inspired bathrooms. A freestanding bathtub can raise a home’s sale price. • Meditation rooms. Such rooms don’t need to be large—just out of theway of the heaviest traffic zones in the house. • Reading nooks. They can be placed in a room or a hallway with shelving to store favorite volumes. • Exercise areas. Exercise raises “happiness hormones” and contributes to physical fitness, which can boost emotional well-being. • Natural light. It can help people feel happier, especially in the winter months. Plus, natural light nurtures another great mental health boost —house plants. • Pet features. These might be fenced-in yards, dog houses, dog runs, custom feeding stations, and “catios.” While“home sweet home”is great,“home calm home” can be even better.
4 WebsiteCompass Listen to the Experts if You Plan to Buy or Sell in 2022 Trends like low interest rates, limited inventory, and an increasing need for home office space are changing the pathways to closed deals for both buyers and sellers. Below are expert tips for making the most of the current market. Buyers While interest rates are still low, they are rising. This means if you want to buy a home, you should act now to get the best deals. But low rates mean more competition, so prepare to offer more than the asking price, have a substantial down payment, or even pay with cash. The home shortage is decreasing, but not by much, so competition remains fierce. You must be ready to act quickly on a property that seems like a good fit and be willing to make compromises on nonessential features. Finally, speed is important under the current conditions, but you should do your homework before taking initial steps. Researching neighborhoods, talking to bankers, and choosing the best possible real estate agent are good starting points. Sellers For sellers, low interest rates are pushing more potential buyers your way. Even as rates increase, some shoppers see purchasing a home as more affordable than renting. So, you can be choosier about which offers to accept. The housing shortage has put sellers in a good position. However, if you’re also a buyer, make sure to secure your next home before letting your current one go. As a seller, you should start your process by looking at the current inventory, with the help of a real estate agent, and taking note of the price, condition, and curbside appeal of competitive homes. What Not to DoWhen Selling Your Home The real estate market is great for sellers right now, but that doesn’t mean you can put up a “For Sale” sign and call it a day. You still need to take control of the process and avoid the following missteps: • Deferring needed repairs. Potential buyers should see a home they can imagine themselves living in right away without having to immediately fix things. • Personalizing the décor. Remove highly personal effects, such as photos and souvenirs. • Leaving the house cluttered during showings. Do a quick cleanup of any clutter around the house, including closets, where potential buyers are sure to look. • Wasting space. If you have a room you don’t use, stage it with furniture and other items to suggest a purpose for it. • Ignoring the competition. You don’t have to do everything your neighbors are doing, but you should certainly consider making changes based on the condition of nearby properties on the market. A little work on your part can lead to a big increase in the sale price. So, roll up your sleeves and get busy! QUICK TIP: Check out Zillow’s staging advice at zillow.com/ sellers-guide/how-to-stagehouse-to-sell. Feature Story
WebsiteCompass 5 Home Considerations for RemoteWorkers If you work remotely, you’ll want your next home to include features like these to enhance your efficiency and productivity: • Office space. While not essential, an entire room dedicated to work helps you create a boundary between business- and home-related activities. For example, your children will know it’s work time when you’re in the office. • Robust internet service. Make sure the home location has access to fast and reliable internet service. This is probably the single most important factor. • Peace and quiet. Is the home you’re considering in a busy area with lots of traffic, people, or machinery? If so, a quieter location might be a better choice to remove distractions that hamper concentration. • Convenient location. You may no longer need to travel to a workplace every day, but what about going there for meetings? Be sure the drive is doable. Now that you have this list, you’re ready to get to work! If you want your next home to be a smart home, look for existing components in houses you’re touring. The following smart home devices are some of the most common in properties now on the market. Get Smart When You Tour Properties Smart Thermostat Smart thermostats like Google’s Nest (store.google.com/category/connected_ home) perform automated actions like turning the heat or cooling down when you leave the house and enabling you to change the temperature even when you’re not home. Security System A home security system might include door locks, doorbells, and cameras, all of which operate from an app on your phone. These components can be paired with other systems like lighting, so the lights turn on when you open the door. Lighting Smart lights can be controlled using your phone or an assistant like Alexa (amazon.com/dp/B085HK4KL6). Smart light switches are another option that works with LED lights and can be operated from your phone. Appliances Just about any appliance can be smart, including refrigerators, electric ranges, dishwashers, clothes washers, and dryers. Even smaller items like toaster ovens can be operated using a companion app. Smart Plugs Smart plugs (homedepot.com/p/ Wyze-Wi-Fi-Smart-Plug-2-PackWLPP1CFH/310678611) may be one of the best smart devices available, given that anything you plug into it becomes controllable from your phone or assistant. Smoke Detectors Smart smoke detectors can alert you via your phone, no matter where you are, or automatically turn on the house lights to make for an easier escape. Remember, even if the home has some of these items, they might not remain after the sale, or you may need to purchase additional equipment to make them work. QUICK TIP: Check out HGTV’s ideas for home office décor at hgtv.com/design/rooms/otherrooms/10-tips-for-designingyour-home-office.
6 WebsiteCompass Feature Story Thinking About Becoming a Landlord? With interest rates low, you may be thinking beyond your primary residence to a property you can rent to others. The biggest benefit is a regular monthly income, but there are many other factors to consider before taking this step. Risky Investment While owning a rental property can provide the opportunity for an additional revenue stream, it’s not a guarantee. A home that goes unrented for several months equals a loss of income. Property Management You’ll always be on call to maintain the property, especially between tenants. Such maintenance may include cleaning, gardening, replacing old pipes, repainting, and many other tasks. Consider a software application like Rentec Direct (rentecdirect.com) to help. Business Savvy Being a landlord is being in business for yourself. But if you don’t understand the ins and outs of bookkeeping, taxes, legal matters, and the like, you may end up in over your head. Learn some of the basics at mysmartmove.com/SmartMove/blog/9must-know-tips-new-landlords.page. Repairs The property could require extensive repairs. Even if everything looks good when you buy, an unexpected storm or other disaster can create expenses that go beyond what your insurance covers. Time In an ideal scenario, you won’t have to put much time into being a landlord. But that’s not always the case. Situations in which you must oversee repairs or deal with a challenging tenant can force you to put in hours you didn’t expect. Communication Being a landlord means clear communication with your tenants. If you’re not a people person, you might have a hard time with this aspect of the job. Check out the advice at rentecdirect.com/blog/ the-best-communication-tips-for-landlords-and-renters. Virtual Versus In-person Tours With the pandemic came the need for virtual everything, and home tours are no exception. While it’s not the same as physically being in a house, virtual tours can provide enough information for some people to be comfortable buying on that experience alone. That’s why home sellers should understand what makes an effective video or virtual showing. The first key is high video quality, so viewers can clearly see all the home’s features. Another is sufficient time spent in each room. Finally, viewers appreciate an easy login process and the opportunity to ask questions. Sellers can also take the opportunity to show hard-to-reach spaces that potential buyers might not want to access in person, such as the roof or a crawl space. It’s not necessarily an either-or situation. To save time, many prospective home buyers are checking out video walk-throughs of homes on the market, then going on in-person tours to see the ones they like best. QUICK TIP: Considering house flipping? Check out 1-2-3 Flip (123flip.com) for loads of free resources.
WebsiteCompass 7 When you’re making the biggest financial decision of your life, you want all the help you can get. These websites can guide you to the information you need, assist with looking for or listing a home, and much more. Do Your House Homework on These Websites Research • MLS.com (mls.com) allows you to search listings by members of your local Multiple Listing Service and find real estate educational resources. • Neighborhood Scout (neighborhoodscout.com) includes helpful information about neighborhoods including crime, housing, and school statistics. • Trulia (trulia.com) uses map overlays to deliver a deeper understanding of each neighborhood. Listing or Finding a Home • Zillow (zillow.com) is rich with information such as property listings, historical home values, and average rents. • Realtor.com (realtor.com) offers a list of for-sale properties and tools to help make an informed decision. • Redfin (redfin.com) includes listings, agents, and other resources to help you sell your home. Alternative Transactions • Auction.com (auction.com) lists and enables bidding on thousands of bankowned and foreclosure home deals. • FSBO.com (fsbo.com) is a paid service that gives sellers the tools they need to sell a home without an agent, and buyers a place to look for these listings. • Foreclosure.com (foreclosure.com) lists properties that are in the foreclosure process as well as information about buying such homes. For Landlords • RentCafe (rentcafe.com) gives information about expected rent in each neighborhood to help you set your rent accordingly. • Nolo (nolo.com) provides legal information for landlords, such as lease terms and how to handle tricky renter situations. • eRentPayment (erentpayment.com) offers landlord services including tenant screening, online payment processing, and maintenance requests. Hints and Tricks • Homes.com (homes.com) provides helpful information about the home purchasing process, including how to secure a mortgage. • This Old House (thisoldhouse.com) helps you save money on repairs by showing you how to DIY. • BiggerPockets (biggerpockets.com) provides tools, resources, and a member community to help you learn about real estate investing. Download These House Hunting Apps for Loads of Help House hunting is a process that can change by the minute, so it’s vital to stay updated whether you’re at home, at work, or out and about. Put these apps on your phone so you’ll always be prepared: • App versions of the websites listed on this page, including Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia. Download to use the same features from anywhere. • Homesnap. Love the house for sale you’re passing by? Just snap a photo with this app and get all the details about it. • Century 21 Local. Provides home listing information pulled from the local MLS and includes a notes section to keep track of your impressions of each home. • Houzz. This app offers a 3D decorating feature, shopping functionality, and listings of professionals to help with home projects. • Rocket Mortgage. In addition to processing Rocket Mortgage mortgages, this app can help you determine how large a loan you can afford. Just for fun, you may also want to download the free Design Home: DreamMakeover app. This game allows you to play interior decorator and bring your dream home to reality.
8 WebsiteCompass Internet Connections That’s why the Federal Communications Commission launched the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in 2022, which helps qualifying households pay for internet service. Funds for the ACP were included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by Congress in 2021, a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness. The ACP replaced the Emergency Broadband Benefit—a temporary subsidy program established to help low-income families and those who lost income during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Households qualifying for the ACP can receive a discount of up to $30 per month toward broadband service or up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. They may also receive a onetime discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet if the provider offers ACP-discounted devices. The ACP benefit is non-transferrable and limited to one monthly internet discount and a one-time connected device discount. Ways to Qualify There are several ways a household can qualify for the ACP: Based on your household income You are eligible for the ACP if your income is 200% or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which are based on your household size and state. For example, a household of three people living in any of the 48 contiguous states would qualify with an income at or below $46,060. Affordable Connectivity Program Helps Households Connect You, or someone you know, may qualify for an internet discount People need a reliable home internet connection to participate in many activities related to employment, education, health care, family relationships, and more. Yet there are U.S. households struggling to get connected to this essential service and afford the monthly cost.
WebsiteCompass 9 If you or your child or dependent participate in certain government assistance programs They include: • S upplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps • M edicaid • S pecial Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) • S upplemental Security Income (SSI) • F ederal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA) • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit • Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, including at U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision schools • R eceived a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year If you live on qualifying Tribal lands or participate in Tribal assistance programs You are eligible for the ACP if your household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or if you (or someone in your household) participate in: • Any of the federal assistance programs listed above • B ureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance • Head Start (only households meeting the income qualifying standard) • Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (Tribal TANF) • F ood Distribution Program on Indian Reservations If you or your child or dependent already receives a Lifeline benefit Lifeline is a Federal Communications Commission program to help make communications services more affordable for low-income consumers. If you currently receive a Lifeline benefit, you automatically qualify for the ACP, and you can receive both benefits at the same time. You can apply your ACP benefit and your Lifeline benefit to the same or separate services. Talk to your internet service provider to learn how to start receiving ACP discounts. You may also qualify for the ACP through a participating provider’s existing low-income program. Other Important Details The ACP is not a check that you receive. It’s a discount that gets applied to your internet bill. As such, you’ll need to notify your internet service provider of your ACP participation so it will apply the discount to your monthly charge. This is also an opportunity to see if you can upgrade your internet plan tier and potentially get more speed for less money. The ACP is a long-term program. The government has committed $14 billion to this endeavor, and there is currently no end date. If the ACP ends, however, or when a household is no longer eligible, customers will be subject to the provider’s regular internet rates, terms, and conditions. How to Apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program You have three different ways to apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program. 1. Apply online. Go to ACPBenefit.org to submit an application. If you choose to apply online, you could receive immediate approval. If that’s not the case, you may need to provide additional documentation to move forward with the ACP discount. 2. A pply by mail. To do this, you will need to print out the application found at https://acpbenefit.org/wp-content/ uploads/ACP-Application-Form-English.pdf, complete it, and mail it along with your copies of the required documents to: ACP Support Center, PO Box 7081, London, KY 40742. 3. Contact your internet service provider directly. Ask if your provider participates in the Affordable Connectivity Program. (Not all of them do.) If your provider does, it should be able to walk you through whatever steps are needed to complete the process. Note that some providers may ask you to complete an alternative application. Additional information about the ACP is available at fcc.gov/ ACP, or by calling the ACP Support Center at 877-384-2575.
10 WebsiteCompass Social icon Circle Only use blue and/or white. For more details check out our Brand Guidelines. Social icon Circle Only use blue and/or white. For more details check out our Brand Guidelines. Pros: Building Connections At its best, social media is a place to connect, share, and build with others. Supports relationship building. Whether it’s sharing personal challenges with close friends or joining a group to support a worthy cause, social media offers tools that help you maintain relationships and communicate with people everywhere. Enables access to critical information. From learning about breaking world news to finding out what book your book club will be reading next, social media enables you to stay connected to the information that matters most in your life. Facilitates the work of civic activities. Organizers use social media to get the word out about local, national, and international movements, expanding participation in important causes from planting community gardens to voting in national elections. Offers a sense of connection. During times in which people can’t be social in person, social media can offer a sense of connection. The COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example of this situation. Provides support in challenging times. Whether you’re sick, caring for a loved one, or going through tough times at work, getting support from friends and fellow group members on social media can go a long way toward helping you feel better about difficult situations. Stimulates economic growth. If you’re in business for yourself, social media platforms are great places to connect with customers, promote your offerings, and find new markets. Cons: Causing Problems At its worst, social media can interfere with other aspects of your life or be emotionally or physically damaging. Circulates misinformation. One of the biggest downsides of social media is its ability to quickly spread misinformation. Unfortunately, many people have not yet developed the skills to discern true posts from false ones, and platforms have yet to develop effective policies to manage these challenges. Exacerbates health issues. Social media can negatively impact self-esteem, increase feelings of depression and social isolation, Pros and Cons of Social Media Navigate these platforms wisely so they do the most for you As social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have evolved, users have figured out what they like and dislike about them. For example, staying in touch with friends and relatives is great, but having to deal with worrisome privacy issues is not. Here we break down the pros and cons and offer tips for keeping the negative aspects to a minimum. Social Media Basics
WebsiteCompass 11 contribute to feeling left out, and interfere with physical wellness. These effects are felt even more strongly by young people. Presents privacy issues. The social media privacy problem comes in many forms, including hackers gaining access to your personal information and you not knowing what social media companies are doing with your data. Causes information overload. Spend just a few minutes on Facebook and you might see posts about an engagement, a funny dog trick, someone’s job loss, a political rant, and ads about products you may or may not be interested in. Like a meal with too many flavors, that’s a lot of different types of information that can be difficult to digest. Promotes cyber bullying. Bullying via social media is an unfortunate element of the online world and can be harmful. While it’s most talked about between children, it can happen to adults, too. Distracts fromwork and family. Social media has a distractive quality that was designed intentionally. The platforms want your eyeballs for as long as possible, so you’ll see more of the ads that generate their income. However, these distractions can be detrimental to your professional and personal life. How to Safely Use Social Media for News Social media can be a convenient source for news, but only if you avoid the pitfalls that can lead you down the fake news path. Here are a few tips for finding reliable news sources: • Don’t consider every item that lands in your feed to be “news.” If you’re unfamiliar with the source, check it and make sure it aligns with what other sources are saying. • Follow the accounts of news sources you already rely on outside of social media. • Take citizen journalism with a grain of salt. Again, check other sources to make sure people’s stories add up. Social Media’s Negative Impact on Young People You may recall a news story in 2021 about Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen. Part of what Haugen exposed about Facebook was its knowledge of the negative impacts of Instagram (which Facebook owns) on young women. In a recent Time article, Haugen stated, “They end up in this feedback cycle where they hate their bodies more and more.” That’s just one piece of the troubling picture being painted about social media’s effects on young people. The Mayo Clinic points out, “Social media use can…negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, [and] unrealistic views of other people’s lives.” These effects happening during formative years can have negative repercussions that last well into adulthood. Further, some studies have linked high levels of social media use with depression, anxiety, and social media addiction. Like other forms of addiction, this condition can be difficult to treat and can get in the way of normal development. Source: https://time.com/6103645/facebook-whistleblower-frances-haugen/ Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teens-and-social-media-use/art-20474437
12 WebsiteCompass Social Media Basics How to Minimize the Downsides of Social Media Because social media has so many benefits, a lot of people want to continue using it despite the downsides. If you’re one of them, consider taking these steps to reduce the potential harm. 1. Customize your feed. Social media is healthier when you take control of your feed rather than allowing it to take control of you. One way to do it is to think in advance about your goals for each social media platform and session. Want to check in on a few favorite people? Create a group that only shows their activity. Just looking for news? Create a separate group for sources you know you can trust. 2. Adjust privacy settings. With services you don’t pay for, there may be a hidden cost. Social media companies have access to a lot of your personal information and use it to show you ads targeted to your interests and demographics. With that power comes a level of responsibility that these companies don’t always take seriously. So, lock down your profile as much as possible using the privacy settings on each platform. 3. Be careful about what you share. Your privacy can also be compromised by your own sharing. Things like where your kids go to school or when you’ll be away on vacation can be invitations to people who may have evil intentions. Keep your posts as general as possible and be careful about who you accept as a friend. 4. Learn to identify reliable sources. In today’s digital world, knowing how to differentiate between real news and fake news is an essential skill. For starters, experts recommend understanding the types of fake news out there, how it spreads, and the level of harm it can cause. Then, learn to check each source and author, and compare the information with other sources. 5. Don’t connect to third parties with social media accounts. Many websites across the internet allow you to sign in using your Facebook or Google credentials. Doing so can expose parts of your Facebook data to those third parties. Even if you trust the website, you can never be sure how they’ll use your information. So, use other login processes instead, such as entering your username and password. 6. Teach kids healthy social media habits. Even before your kids start using social media themselves, use age-appropriate language to help them understand the importance of things like privacy, emotional health, connecting with others offline, and people who may want to do them harm. You don’t want to scare them, but you also want to make sure they know how to protect themselves.
WebsiteCompass 13 The graphics interchange format (GIF) has been around since the 1980s and is still used regularly to express humor, happiness, frustration, and other emotions, or to simply convey information. Here we explore popular uses for GIFs and offer ideas to enhance your online conversations. Express Yourself with a GIF Add interest to social media posts, texts, emails, and more Good Uses for GIFs GIFs, which typically appear in the format of brief, soundless video loops, can be used in numerous ways in both personal and professional communications. Here are a few examples: • In a Facebook post, instead of writing “LOL” or using a laughing emoji, you can post a GIF of a well-known TV show character—such as Kitty from That 70s Show —laughing. • In a text message, rather than responding “yes” to a question from a friend, you could send a GIF of animated letters spelling out, “YES!” • In an email to coworkers about an upcoming company party, you could include a GIF of professionals holding drinks, wearing party hats, and dancing. • In a PowerPoint presentation for work, you could place an animated image of a graph line moving upward on a slide about rising revenue. How GIFs Got Going As noted above, the first GIFs appeared in the 1980s. That’s when then CompuServe employee Steve Wilhite was tasked with developing a way to include images in a small file format that would display across all computer systems. Wilhite created the GIF format, meeting the assignment’s requirements. Netscape, the first browser to allow interactive images, made the GIF a standard. The first GIFs to appear widely included “under construction” notices, which were common when many companies were still developing their first websites, and the famous (and famously creepy) “dancing baby.” Back to Basics QUICKTIP: GIF stickers are GIF files with transparency around the edges that can be used in similar ways to animate GIFs.
Back to Basics 14 WebsiteCompass In 1994, a dispute arose regarding the process that made the GIF possible. This process had earlier been patented by Unisys Corp, which stated that it would begin charging a fee for the use of its technology. Some developers accepted the situation, while others avoided the charge by creating GIFs using a different process and developing alternative formats, such as the PNG. At that time, many stopped creating and using GIFs, so the format went underground for a few years. However, consumers missed the GIF, and it made a return, maintaining its role in online communication ever since. What’s Great About GIFs? If you’ve never used GIFs, consider doing so for the following reasons: • They’re popular. Many people are entertained and enlightened by GIFs in both personal and professional contexts. • They’re unexpected. Though GIFs are popular, they’re not always expected, and are a nice alternative to text, static images, videos, and emojis. • They’re universal. The GIF format was created to work across a wide variety of computing platforms, so you can use them just about anywhere. • They express emotion in a unique way. Being happy about something and writing “Yay!” is somehow not quite the same as posting a GIF of Elmo doing a happy dance. • There’s one for every occasion. Spend just a few minutes on GIPHY, the top source for GIFs, and you’ll see everything —including late-night talk show hosts, cute animals, sports teams, and movie clips. GIF Guidance Like every online communication method, GIFs have their own set of unwritten rules. If you’re new to GIFs or want to use them more effectively, check out these suggestions. DO • Choose each GIF carefully to be sure it truly expresses your sentiment. • Use GIFs in your promotional materials if you own or manage a small business. • Animate data in business presentations to make the information more interesting. • Create your own GIFs if you’re so inclined. DON’T • Think that GIFs are just for younger users or for personal use only. They are now well accepted by all generations and (within reason) in professional settings. • Overuse GIFs. Part of their appeal is that they often appear unexpectedly. • Rely on the same GIFs all the time. Pick new ones to freshen up your messages. • Use GIFs that might be offensive to your audience. Debate Over How to Pronounce GIF When the man credited with creating the GIF format, Steve Wilhite, recently passed away, debate over how to pronounce the name of his creation was renewed. Wilhite himself always said it should be pronounced “jif,” like the peanut butter brand. The J. M. Smucker Company, which owns Jif, agreed, tweeting, “It’s pronounced JIF.” But others argued it should be pronounced with a hard “g” sound because the word it stands for, “graphics,” is pronounced that way. The Oxford English Dictionary, which is about as authoritative source as you can imagine, approves both pronunciations and selected GIF as its Word of the Year in 2012. The debate is so active that, in 2020, Time published a timeline about it, starting in 1987 when Wilhite quipped, “Choosy developers choose JIF.” Even President Obama picked a side, proclaiming it should be pronounced with a hard “g” like “grape.” Most Americans agree with him; a 2014 survey revealed that the hard “g” pronunciation beat the soft “g” one, 54% to 41%. GIF! JIF!
WebsiteCompass 15 How to Use GIFs in Messaging Apps You can use a GIF in a text message to support a point, convey an emotion, or just be silly. Modern text messaging apps make it as easy to include a GIF in your message as it is to include an emoji. TUTORIAL Use a GIF on an Android Device On Android devices, Google Messages is the default texting app. Here’s how to send a GIF within it. TUTORIAL Use a GIF on an iOS Device On iPhones, sending a GIF is just as easy as doing so on an Android device. 1. Open Messages. 2. Tap the text box. The keyboard and shortcut panels appear. 3. To bring up GIF options, tap the red search icon. 4. Scroll to find the GIF you want. Alternatively, in the Find images box, enter a search term. 5. Tap the GIF you want to send. It appears in the text box. 6. You can add text, then send as usual, or just send. 1. Open Messages. 2. Tap Start chat to initiate a new text. 3. Choose the person you want to send the GIF to. 4. In the Chat message box, tap the emoji icon. 5. A menu appears. Tap GIFs. 6. Choose the category you want, such as Happy, Love, or Confused. Alternatively, in the Search GIFs box, enter a search term. 7. Scroll until you find a GIF you like, then select it. 8. The GIF appears in the Chat message box. You can add text, then send as usual, or just send. QUICKTIP: GIPHY (giphy.com) enables you to download GIFs and even make your own. OHHH!
16 WebsiteCompass Beyond the Basics According to Giving USA, U.S. residents donated a record $471 billion to charities in 2020. Because we have so many kindhearted and generous people in this country, criminals know that charity scams can be a lucrative way to make money. DonateWisely and Avoid Scams Learn to distinguish between legitimate charities and fraudulent ones These scams can look and sound like a message from a legitimate charity and may come in the form of a phone call, email, or door-to-door solicitation. Whatever the approach, the goal is the same —to convince you to give them money (and possibly personal information for use in identity theft). Watch for Warning Signs Charity scammers tend to draw from the same “bag of tricks.” If you receive a charity request with one or more of these warning signs, it’s almost certainly a scam: • Pressure to give immediately. A legitimate charity will welcome your donation whenever you choose to make it. If you’re being pushed to donate RIGHT NOW, or before a time limit runs out, be skeptical. • Being thanked for a donation you never made. Making you think you’re a past contributor to the cause is a common trick unscrupulous fundraisers use to establish legitimacy and lower your resistance. If you don’t remember supporting the charity in the past, it’s probably a fraudulent organization. • A request for certain payment methods. Scammers often ask for donations in cash or by gift card, money transfer tools like CashApp, or wire transfer. Why? These forms of payment are difficult to trace. • A request for personal or financial information. Legitimate charities won’t ask for your Social Security number, birth date, or banking information. • Sweepstakes promises. It’s illegal for an organization to guarantee you sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a donation.
WebsiteCompass 17 Be Careful with Crowdfunding Sites Keep in mind that even legitimate crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe may include fraudulent causes that look believable at first glance. If a friend shared or “liked” the request on social media, contact your friend offline and ask what they know about the post. Do they personally know the person or group soliciting donations? If not, research the campaign organizer. Do they lack an online presence or do the details you find not match what’s said on the crowdfunding campaign page? Be suspicious. It’s also a good idea to do a reverse image search of the photos used on the crowdfunding campaign page as well as the campaign organizer’s social media pages. Scammers often copy and paste stolen photos from other people’s stories. Keep Emotions in Check While it’s natural for charity appeals to generate feelings of sadness, concern, and compassion, you need to think with your head and not just your heart when making donation decisions. One of the best ways to keep emotions in check is to be proactive rather than reactive. Instead of making an on-the-spot donation based on an emotional appeal you receive, plan ahead. Think about how much you can afford to donate each year, choose which causes are most important to you, then do your homework to find efficient and responsible charities working for those causes. (See the sidebar for charity research tips.) Remember, legitimate charities as well as fraudulent ones can use heartbreaking images and share examples of people they’ve helped. Your job is to distinguish between the two. You don’t want your donation to end up in the hands of a scammer or a for-profit fundraiser that skims as much as 90-95% of your donation off the top before the small remaining amount goes to the legitimate charity. Donate by Credit Card The Federal Trade Commission says the safest way to make a charitable donation is by credit card, since they provide a paper trail for an added layer of protection should you need to dispute a charge. Be sure to review your credit card statements closely to make sure you’re only charged the amount you agreed to donate, and you’re not signed up to make a recurring donation you didn’t approve. Don’t use your debit card to donate. It’s directly linked to your bank account and is therefore considered a more vulnerable payment method. Tips on How to Research Charities Before you spend your money on a donation, spend your time on research. That way, you’ll know whether an organization is worthy of your support. A good place to start is by checking watchdog websites like these: Charity Navigator charitynavigator.org Search by charity name or keywords, review 4-Star Charities and Top Ten Lists, and learn other information to help you give with more confidence. Charity Watch charitywatch.org Groups included on the CharityWatch Top-Rated list generally spend 75% or more of their budgets on programs, spend $25 or less to raise $100 in public support, do not hold excessive assets in reserve, have met CharityWatch’s governance benchmarks, and receive “open-book” status for disclosure of basic financial information and documents to CharityWatch. BBB Wise Giving Alliance give.org The BBB’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability address four themes: Governance, Results Reports, Finances, and Truthful and Transparent Represen- tations. Findings related to these standards are put in each charity’s report. The Federal Trade Commission also recommends you do your own homework online. In the search bar, enter the charity’s name along with terms like “complaints” and “scam” to see if fraudulent reports come up.
18 WebsiteCompass FAQs Dr. Webbie Answers your frequently asked questions QUESTION: Do I need to install software updates each time I get notified they’re available? ANSWER: The short answer to your question is, “Yes, you do.” It’s vitally important to stay on top of software updates since they provide you with added protection and other benefits. Increased Security Software updates often include software patches, which cover recently discovered security holes or flaws. This is critical since hackers look for security holes and take advantage of them by writing code to target the vulnerability. The code is packaged into malware, which can infect your computer with no action on your part other than viewing a rogue website, opening a compromised message, or playing infected media. The hacker could then steal your personal data or even gain control over your computer and encrypt your files. Because of these potential security threats, it’s in your best interest to promptly update your software when you receive an update notice. Improved User Experience In addition to security fixes, software updates can also include changes to make the user experience better. This may involve: • New or enhanced features • Better compatibility with different devices or applications • Improved software stability • Removal of outdated features For these reasons, you shouldn’t ignore those reminders about software updates, however annoying they may seem at the time. After all, the update process typically doesn’t take long, and it could save you all kinds of headaches down the road. QUESTION: I heard AARP launched a social media platform. What can you tell me about it? ANSWER: AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) funded the creation of Senior Planet Community, a social media platform just for 60+ adults. It was developed by an AARP affiliate, Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), which started out giving computer classes in New York City and has expanded its physical footprint over the years. During the pandemic, those classes moved online, and Senior Planet Community grew from that transition. Senior Planet Community has been described as a secure haven for older adults to make their voices heard, engage in thoughtprovoking discussions, and share resources with one another. The social media platform encourages users to join pre-existing groups around shared interests, including Fitness Enthusiasts, Space for Creatives, Gardening Club, Pet Lovers, Fun with Photography, Book Club, and more. You can check out what’s available at seniorplanet.org. The site also includes educational articles, live virtual classes, and tech tips videos. Compared with Facebook, Senior Planet Community is smaller and simpler. It feels more like a pared-down version of Reddit or a small collection of forums. However, all the popular social media features are there, including groups, photo sharing, @-mentions, notifications, and direct messaging. There are no ads or membership fees. Senior Planet Community has a list of “house rules” that urges users to “be courteous” and “cite your sources.” Posts about politics aren’t forbidden, but the rules say posts can’t stray off-topic, and users can’t “attack individuals, social, ethnic, or political groups and figures.”Users can report posts they think violate the rules.