Category Archives: Social Media Q&A

Q&A: Someone is using a photo of my child as their profile picture

Question: Someone is using a photo of my daughter as their Facebook profile picture. I have reported it to Facebook, but Facebook doesn’t want to do anything about it. They replied that there is nothing wrong or inappropriate and don’t want to remove the profile.

What options do I have?

Answer: Facebook and all other social media platforms are full of fake profiles that use other people’s photos, names and identities. It’s stressful to discover that this is happening to you and it can be hugely damaging to your integrity.

When you report a problem to Facebook it feels like you are talking to a large black hole and you are not sure if anyone is listening.

In the past, when several people have reported a false profile Facebook has removed it, so if they are not doing anything about your single complaint you can ask all your friends to report the profile, which might help. To do this you go into the false Facebook profile, and on the right side of the top large cover photo will be three dots, click on them and choose ‘Report’.

Here are two useful links to Facebook:

General help:

What do I do if someone is pretending to be me on Facebook?

Facebook’s policy says that you have to use your real name in your profile, so it sounds odd that it would be okay to use a fake photo. Of course this is a huge operational problem, but as there are so many smart digital solutions out there I can’t see why they don’t have some kind of verification system for real accounts with real profile photos.

The companies that provide us with our online profiles need to get their act together and provide more open and transparent customer service. From my experience reporting problems only LinkedIn has offered human, friendly customer support.

Three points to remember in the complaints process are: 1) always take screenshots of the false account and save them on your computer; 2) tell all your friends and online connections that you have discovered the fake account; 3) report it to the police.

Legal help is available and can help you track the IP address of the computer that is using your name and account. I’m not a legal expert, but I know that this service is available. Look for a legal firm where you are based.

It’s good to be more cautious with how you share photos of your children online. If you make your photos public potential weirdoes and paedophiles can see them and they will get unnecessary insights into your life.

Very young children can’t have an opinion about which pictures you show of them online, and you have to consider how sharing loads of photos of them online  can affect them in the future.

It’s a good habit to ask children for consent before sharing a photo of them online, and to not share photos of children who are too young to understand what it means to be in photos online. What the ‘right’ age is depends on children’s maturity and experience of the web. You can also have a private Instagram account where only the followers you approve can see your pictures.


UPDATE 1st August.

I got a comment on Facebook which can help.

‘File a copyright infringement notice.’ That will fit into Facebook categories.


Do you have any questions about life in relation to social media?

Send an email with your question to Sofie Sandell for a chance to get it published here.



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Q&A: Do I have to have an active online profile?

Question: I have chosen to not get too involved in social media. I prefer to meet people in real life and I don’t want to communicate with them online. Do I have to have an active online profile? It takes a lot of time and I want to stay anonymous. 

Answer: I’ve heard this many times, and no one has to do anything online. You can stay away from it and avoid it. One risk is that new people might be suspicious of who you really are. Your social media profiles are a modern ‘proof of identity’.

We are partly shaping our identity when we are active online. The stories we share are important elements in our lives and when we share photos of friends we are reinforcing our common memories. To do this and being involved also means that we are curious about life, which is a good trait.

I know a person who lives in Beijing, China and he wasn’t allowed to do business with an American company until he had a credible online profile. For them he didn’t ‘look and feel’ as a real person until he created a professional profile online. Being online shows credibility in many ways.

Many recruiters will check out your online profile before they meet you, and if there is very little about you they might think you are a technophobe. Your online CV is a combination of many things that are shared about you online, part of that story can be written by you.

I once met a person who is a theatre director, she is doing an amazing job. When anyone looks at her online profile it looks as if she hasn’t done any interesting productions. She has done some great projects and why not share more about them online.

Many people are talking about the importance of personal branding, and what you do online is affecting your ‘brand’ on many levels. This can be stressful and comes with responsibility of who you are and what you believe in. It looks to me as people who are clear about their values are more active online and it might be because they know where they stand and what their values are.

If your goal is to stay connected with your friends and the communities your belong to then you I would recommend you to be active online. If you prefer to not do anything in social media that’s okay too. But if you remain outside the social interactions online there is a risk that you are missing out from important communication.

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Q&A: Facebook and connecting with colleagues at work

Question: Do I have to connect with my colleagues on Facebook? It seems as if many colleagues are connected online, but I’m not sure whether I want to share what I do with my friends outside work with them.

Answer: This is an interesting question and many people are thinking about this. Firstly, it depends on where you work and the organisational culture you are part of. In some workplaces it’s totally normal to be connected all over social media and other teams are keeping it more private. Secondly, Facebook can be very personal, and you have to decide how open you want to be. Ask yourself what privacy means to you? And how important is it? We are all different in how we look at this.

One option is to tell people you work with that you are very happy to connect on LinkedIn, Twitter and other open online networks, but keeping Facebook to people you know outside work. It could cause conflicts if you are allowing only a few colleagues into your Facebook, but not others. In this case I mean close colleagues who you are ok to hang out with during work hours.

I know that some teams are bonding better when they are connected both at work and online, you share your interests and experiences and that’s good for the atmosphere.

I’ve also heard horror stories about work colleagues who have shared private and sensitive updates to Human Resources (HR) about a person’s medical condition that they had written in a Facebook post. This is not ok under any circumstances, and I hope that the HR department told off the person who forwarded the sensitive information.

Define what privacy and openness means to you right now. You can also change your mind about how to handle your Facebook network in the future, that’s ok.

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Q&A: Recognition on social media

Question: I’m so annoyed with all people in my online network who just want attention. I use to say that they should get a life. Am I right?

Answer: We have a lot of people around us, and on a daily basis we can easily meet a few hundred. Some of them will be different, strange and even bizarre.

It’s totally normal to want recognition for what you do and who you are, all humans need it. Some are a bit hungrier for it, but as long as it’s not driven in extremism I think you should just let it be.

I often hear that people who are narcissistic are awful and annoying people hard to stand. But we all have a bit of that inside us. As long it’s not an extreme case just accept that we are different.

If you are worried that someone you know have very low self-esteem and are posting strange posts on social media to ‘boost themselves’ you need to talk to him or her and say that you are appreciating the person as they are. All parents should definitely talk about self worth with they children, and the difference between being loved and accepted as you are and ‘likes’ on social media.

To show that we care for each other is something that never is wrong. A simple like or a positive encouraging comment on social media can make someone smile on the inside. Remember that.

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Q&A: Is it ok to announce that a friend has died using social media?

Question: I see that many people are sharing that someone close to them has passed away using Facebook. A bit insensitive I think, but maybe that’s how you do it when we are connected online? What’s right and is there any guidelines?

Answer: Yes, it’s ok to share that someone has died on social media. It is, of course, best to let the family share it first, so they make sure that the closest know about that the person passed away. Then you can share it further and also write a few words about the person and memories from her/his life. Some people are also telling people they know, before they passed away, how they would like them to announce that they are not with us any longer.

Not everyone are connected through social media, remember to also tell people who aren’t online about that the person passed away. A phone call or email will work.

Connected life online means that we are sharing both good and bad news. Some people will find it unpleasant to find out about that someone passed away online, but that’s how social media and communication work, you get to know a variety of things in different ways.

You can share your thoughts as a comment below.


If you have any questions about social media and our connected life please get in touch at and I will answer them here.


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Q&A: Connectivity and mindfulness

Question: Do I have to go to a retreat to be mindful and stay away from all connectivity?

Answer: There are many people who go to retreats and do their best to stay away from all the connectivity of the modern world. For some this is great but others might not see the benefits that clearly.

In 2014 I was at a writing retreat in Greece for 14 days. This place had no Wi-Fi and your mobile phone only had signal for a few hours per day. It was a lovely Greek island, but the lack of connectivity made me frustrated. For me it’s important to decide when I want to connect or disconnect, I don’t want anyone else doing that for me.

In the next few years we are going to develop even more data, better phones and more videos and written messages. Social media is here to stay and there is too much information around us, especially online. This means that the challenge of finding a healthy balance of connectivity is only going to get bigger.

In the future there will be much more for us to choose from. Industrialisation has meant that more people have choices. This is reflected online and we have lots of choices as to what information to consume.

More choices mean that we have to say yes to certain things and no to others. We need to take control of our social media presence and get more time for ourselves and what we think is important. Being mindful of your choices can be a great benefit.

I’ve spent hours checking my social media accounts and reading online articles. I love digital tools and I believe they are a gift. But I also have to manage my energy and time to make the most of both of them. If I’m tired, checking my social media accounts makes me feel dizzy.

You have to learn that it’s you and not your devices that control what you do with your time. A friend of mine is always on her mobile when we hang out and it’s very annoying for me and others as well, I guess. Do you want to be the friend who is always looking down at your phone? Or do you want to be the one who is a bit more curious about the people you are with? We all have a choice in how we communicate; we can be a good communicator or a lousy one.

Being better at time management and what you do on social media is not about stopping being online at all. No, it’s you taking control of your information consumption and your online relationships. Be mindful about what you do with your time online.

Tracking your activities online can be a good start. I’ve tried RescueTime for a while to see what I’m up to online. You get sent a report every week.

I also tried an app on my phone that tracked how many times I opened my phone every day and how much time I spent on it. I read in an article that some people open their phones 220 times per day. A bit much, I thought. My score was between 37 to 67 times in one day.

You can also track how long you use your smartphone for with the Moment app. This kind of tool can be great to use for a while and gives an indication of what you spend time doing online.

If you have any questions about social media and connected life get in touch at

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Q&A: The anonymous web. Why does it attract us?

The web and all its applications and inventions mirror what’s going on in the world. One thing I’ve been looking into lately is the anonymous web. I’m talking about confession websites and apps where you don’t share your identity – why do we use them? They are increasing in popularity, but why?

It’s not surprising that there are dedicated websites where you can share your thoughts anonymously.

Many of us are used to living a relative anonymous life as more people live in big cities. Our great grandparents were more likely to live in smaller places where everyone knew everything about each other. Today, if you want, you can spend days without actually talking to anyone. Social media, when you are using your real name and identity, has similarities to village gossip where people talk about what’s happening in other people’s lives. It can be good and bad, and your online and offline networks can be both strong and weak.

We live in a busy world and maybe your relationships are not deep enough for you to talk about what’s really bothering you, so, you might turn to an anonymous confession website such as Pencourage.

Writing is a way of healing, and collecting all your thoughts in writing can help you to feel better and make up your mind about what you must do about a problem. It can guide you to work out a plan for yourself.

The people you have in your life might want to listen, but for some reason they can’t – they may not have time or they have too many problems themselves to be able to listen.

Some subjects are too taboo to talk about in different contexts. One example of an online confession I read on Pencourage is about a man who is secretly gay and whose family is Jehovah’s Witnesses. He had no one in his life to talk to so he wrote a confession online.

I recently heard about an anonymous SMS message service called Crisis Line Textin the US where teenagers can text about their problems. They don’t have to give their name or any personal details and it’s turned out to be very successful. Many young people use the SMS service.

Sharing your thoughts with a stranger is much better than keeping them inside yourself. When you are in a crisis you need a compassionate listener who will be there without judging you. When you are talking to someone they often come up with a simple solution and then change the topic. We live in a quick fix world.

Getting things off your chest knowing that someone will listen to you without judging you helps you get the energy you need to feel at least a little bit better.

One big problem with the web is its privacy issues. We all know that governments world wide are spying on us and collect data about what we are doing when online. All of the websites we have ever visited are stored somewhere and what will happen if that information goes public? Big and complex questions…

One man who got his Snapchat messages outed was the now former Royal Bank of Scotland chairman Rory Cullinan. He thought it was safe sending it using Snapchat.

His daughter saved his Snapchat messages as screen grabs on her smartphone and posted them on her Instagram account. Not such a smart thing to do as he wrote about how bored he was at work.

The daughter needs to take a course in basic digital manners. The story was not enjoyable for any of them. By the way, being anonymous online doesn’t involve using apps such as Snapchat.

With these thoughts about life online, I wish you a good day.

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Q&A: The web: Is it making us lonelier?

For over 25 years we have had access to this wonderful gift called the World Wide Web. It’s both beautiful and the cause of trouble.

On Friday 20th March I heard on the BBC Breakfast show that using social media is making us feel lonelier. I think the discussion was prompted by United Nations International Day of Happiness. Is this true or not?

Let me ask you a question: When you have a coffee in a coffee shop do you ever talk to the person next to you? Sometimes I do and this week I had a wild conversation with a young man sitting next to me and we started talking about what happens to you when you are online and how being online is influencing people’s personalities.

He said, ‘People feel very lonely when they use social media.’

‘Really?’ I thought to myself. I replied, ‘People are not lonely because they use social media. There are other factors that make people feel lonely.’

‘I have proof that this is the case, and lots of my friends are really lonely and they are always on Facebook.’

I tried to explain my ideas to him, ‘Loneliness does not come from spending time online; there are other factors that make us lonely. We work too much, we live far away from our families, maybe we have too many shallow relationships and many people suffer from different kinds of addictions.’ (And there are probably many other factors as well that’s causing loneliness)

I read articles on a regular basis saying that we are lonelier than ever. This might be true compared to the past, but it’s not because of the web. I read a study that compared how people interacted in 1985 compared to 30 years later and it revealed the same level of loneliness. Annoyingly, I can’t find that study right now; if I do I will add a link to it.

We hear about all the effects that social media has on us on a regular basis and many conclusions are drawn based on this hypothesis:

‘Problem in society + we use social media and the web more and more = the increased use of social media is to blame for all kinds of issues.’

In the nineties there was a big study done about the web. It was published in 1998 and one of the researchers was Robert Kraut. It’s called ‘The Internet Paradox’ and it shows that people feel lonelier when using the web.

Of course, back then, when nobody was online, you felt lonely when you were on the web. Did you use the internet a lot in 1994-1996?

Today, when you use the web you form stronger relationships. People who use a social media network such as Facebook are not lonelier than people who do not use it. It’s more likely that people who are not using social media will feel excluded because they are not part of the chain of information that’s shared online.

There is another interesting study by Kieth N. Hampton about ‘People are more likely to spend time together in public spaces than they were 30 years ago‘. We are more social when we are out and about than 30 years ago.

One myth dismissed.

The web creates new voices

There is enormous power online and new communities and new networks are formed all the time while other communities dissolve.

I think it is beautiful that people and groups who never had a voice before now can be heard.

In the past there were certain people, such as journalists, academics and politicians etc., who had a voice in society. Today we can all be broadcasters and share our thoughts more widely.

In this post I will mention two groups who didn’t have a voice before. The first one is old and retired people. An example is Birgitta Jonsson, who is 80 years old and lives in Stockholm, Sweden. She’s an activist and very active online, and also runs courses for people who want to learn about the web. Thanks to the web she can share her thoughts and ideas and organise with other people. What do older people need in society to live a better life? You can follow Birgtta on Twitter

Another group that never had a voice before is terminally ill people. I’ve been following several ill people online who are entering their final days. Before social media and blogs this was a private experience. But now some people choose to open up and share their stories. I think it’s a beautiful way to connect and it’s a way to leave a legacy for the people who are still alive.

Can you guess what the most shared blog post on Huffington Post was last year? It was a post by Charlotte Kitley who was terminally ill with cancer and the post was published just after she died.

Thanks to our active online life we are forming new communities, but it’s not just people with good intentions doing this. The recent Twitter census report about ISIS reveals that the average twitter account related to ISIS has about 1,000 followers whereas an average (non-ISIS) account has 300 followers.

ISIS Twitter accounts are super active and they are talented at utilising the power of social media and connecting online. Is it the case that evil leaders are more efficient? I don’t have the full answer, but they are driven by an inner fire and are extremely efficient when using the web to spread their propaganda.

The only way we can learn to manage the huge forces online is by gaining more knowledge. Being more active and not judging what’s going on in social media too quickly is one way to educate yourself. Social media is not an instrument you can use for one day and then say ‘this is how it works and I now know how these people think and act’. No, you need to give it more time and get more involved to learn how online communication works. As with many things, scrutinising details without paying attention to the bigger picture and context will lead to skewed views and misunderstandings.

By developing your knowledge of digital life you can use the web to take positive action for the world, if you choose to not get involved you are making way for more evil forces to take up more space online. And then you will stand on the side watching and saying ‘what’s going on? I had no idea that this is how the new world works.’


This post has similar content to one of my short talks at the Professional Speaking Association in the UK.

Watch the 5 min speech here.

Thanks for reading.


Is social media making us lonely?

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Q&A: Shall I still do Facebook marketing?

I got a question about Facebook marketing and if it still works?

Q: “Spending money to promote your page on facebook. Don’t bother. I have been thinking for a while now that Facebook for business is useless. Any thoughts Sofie Sandell”.

The person asking the question referred to this video:

A: My answer is that it depends on…. but small businesses can’t rely on FB as their main platform for publication – at least at the moment.

The FB pages that are very successful are still getting likes, comments and shares – but also worry about the new challenge with visibility.

If you are based in a country where FB has many users and you share a message that people care about then you will get likes, comments and shares. FB is now in Oct 2014 still the platform that gets messages to be shared and spread the quickest.  

Facebook is trying the get all posts as interesting as possible for us using the service, and there are millions of FB-pages around now. I have liked over 600 pages myself and if I would get all updates from all of them my flow of updates would be really boring.

I have over 1,500 friends on FB and there are a many people’s update I never see just because FB has decided that that is how it is… I would have loved to see all posts, but that’s not how it’s working.

A few tips:

  • Imagine when your audience is most active on FB and post then, would guess evening and weekends for your Yoga page.
  • Post several times per day on your FB page. I you are a B2C brand, post in the evening and weekend. Not when people are at work. You can schedule this if you wish to with FB or a platform such as Hootsuit and Sprout Social.
  • Use images that have a strong message – use colours that are in line with your brand
  • Be creative and fun in your updates.
  • Avoid to sponsor an update which is a long blog post. I see lots of health professionals and coaches doing that. Be short and concise in your message – works better for your sponsored posts. The call to action must be understood in three milli-second.
  • If you are spending money on your FB page a first tip is to get into a habit of doing it weekly. FB is changing the interface and the tricks you can do in your advertising every week, so it’s good to be on top of that.
  • If you compare with YouTube where 50% of all views are educational you get an idea what people are doing online. The internet is an entertainment park, our life university and a communication hub.
  • People learn best by collaboration and if your updates are calling for collaboration you are more likely to get it. Ask your fans for their thoughts.
  • If you can share content that is a mix of educational and entertainment then you will reach further and fly higher.
  • You might have noticed that you see the recent FB pages that you have liked in your FB flow. And if you engage with the page the first 3 months then you will continue to see the updates. If you don’t engage you will not see it.
  • Some of the successful FB pages that I follow have a deep understanding about who they are and who their fans are and that gives them a huge advantage.
  • Brands that are strong online have a story they are proud of, they know which themes they can post about and they have a sixth sense helping them to understand what their fans will enjoy. 

My yogi friend Isabel Holmquist is sharing inspiring content on Instagram The posts are:

  • entertaining
  • educational
  • challenging
  • fascinating your mind and makes you realise that you can do yoga everywhere!

Your question is complex and you need to think about where you are going to curate your content. FB might not be the best place at the moment if you are not spending money.

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Social Media Q&A

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