November 10, 2010 in Business

Sobriety software helps save face on Facebook

Spokane agency developed test to tell you when you’ve had too many to post
By The Spokesman-Review
 

You can save yourself from telling the world you just threw up on your friend’s rug, thanks to a new Web tool developed by a Spokane creative agency.

Downtown Spokane’s 14Four helped develop a social media sobriety test meant to keep users from posting drunken remarks on Facebook or Twitter.

14Four developed the free software plug-in for Webroot, a Boulder, Colo.-based Web security firm that lets people download the test from Webroot.com.

The test’s tagline: “Nothing good happens online after 1 a.m.” It can be used to block messages on six social sites, including MySpace and YouTube. The tool also lets users add a custom Web address to block.

The test was the brainchild of Webroot and TDA, a Boulder ad agency that has worked with 14Four on prior projects.

TDA Account Director Christi Tucay said 14Four took care of the software development side of the project. “They took our idea and made it happen; they built all the Flash, HTML and JavaScript that makes it work,” Tucay said.

14Four has roughly 20 workers and helps companies develop interactive campaigns for the Web and other digital media.

The sobriety test forces a user to complete a challenge before posting an online message at preset times. The challenges, selected at random, force the user to answer or complete a task. One challenge, for example, requires a person to keep the cursor inside a circle moving around onscreen; if the person can’t do that, the user fails the test.

Jeff Oswalt, 14Four’s president, said his firm jumped at the idea when they were first asked by TDA to collaborate. “We saw it as an awesome idea. Plus we would be getting paid for work, which is also a great idea.”

Molly Enkema was 14Four’s producer for the sobriety test. She said the entire process took four months, from initial discussion to the release. The test works only with Web browsers, but Webroot might want to extend the test to mobile devices, she said.

Tucay said she’s sure the test can halt some people’s tendency to post rude or thoughtless comments while under the influence. But she said it’s also uncertain how many people with the problem would consciously use the test to halt those remarks.

“So yes, this test is also a bit of marketing. But it’s also something we’ve been feeling, as a group, that we’ve seen the mistakes we’ve all made online.”

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