Tag Archives: facebook-privacy

Are Your Parents on Facebook?


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My Mom finally decided to create a Facebook account for herself. She plans to only use it to keep in touch with family and close friends, so she was worried about choosing the correct privacy settings. This is something that many of our parents are facing. They want to have Facebook so they can keep track of us, but they don’t want the world to see their information. Do you know how to guide them through setting everything up in a way they are comfortable with?

Obviously, we added all of the normal information to begin with, such as name and location. We learned that Facebook doesn’t “check” passwords against each other when setting up an account to make sure they are correct. We had to take a picture for her profile, and she decided to grab a picture with Wicket and Pixie – her grandpups!

When it asked her to find connections, that was simple. Mom is the last of our immediate family to give in and get a Facebook account. I helped her add my Dad, my brothers and myself.

Have you ever helped a parent (or grandparent) set up an account on Facebook – or another social media site? Did you find it challenging to make sure that they felt comfortable with the privacy settings?

Why is Facebook Giving Out Your Phone Number?


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Today, Lamarr rants on Facebook because – according to him – they STILL don’t get it when it comes to privacy. Facebook is now letting third-party apps have phone numbers and addresses of users.

Even if it IS opt-in, a good percentage of Facebook users are (as Lamarr eloquently stated) “…on the 6th floor when there are only 5 flights.” People will click allow for anything to start an app quickly. Even if it is their responsibility to read the fine print, the majority of people don’t.

If Facebook knows that most of their users are not going to pay close enough attention before allowing an app to have access, then the company is seriously failing the public they supposedly are there to serve.

Should Facebook take some responsibility here to care for this segment of the population and not even make this option available to begin with?

Facebook Adding Comments You Make to Others on Your Wall

We’ve long had “Recent Activities” show up on our Facebook Wall, right? We had all of these little snippets littering up our Wall or Page, telling the world where on the site we’ve been. However, the only thing those little messages said was that we had been there. Nothing showed up on our on Walls about what we were doing there. That changed about five hours ago, according to reports trickling in from the community… and not for the better. Facebook is now posting the actual comments that you post elsewhere onto your own Wall.

My assistant Kat called me a few moments ago to tell me about it, and I had to go and test things out. I posted something simple to her Wall, as seen below:

You can clearly see from the address bar in the screenshot that that is – indeed – Kat’s Wall. (And yes, you can feel free to add her up as a friend, if you wish to!). I then headed over to my own profile page, and found what you see next:

I see what Facebook did there, do you? Yes, we’ve always had little notifications on our Wall. However, until a few hours ago that would have only said “You posted a comment on…” It didn’t actually tell the world what I said to her.

You may be scratching your head and asking why this is a big deal. I did the same thing when Kat told me. She then pointed out that her Mom has very few friends on Facebook for a reason… and her page is as locked down and secure as it can be. She doesn’t wish to share her information with anyone. Kat, however, does not have her Wall and information locked down. She is very social, due to the type of work we do. Imagine how upset her very private mom is going to be if the things Kat writes on her Wall starts showing up for all of you to read? Are you seeing where I’m going with this yet?

This is bad juju, Zuck. You thought people were screaming about privacy issues before, but you haven’t seen anything yet. If this doesn’t go back where it came from quickly, I have a feeling there will be a whole lot of screaming going on in a few hours when the world wakes up and posts to Facebook while having their coffee.

What do you think? Is this change something you like or does it give you the heebie jeebies knowing that the private joke your bestie puts on your Wall is going to show up on theirs, as well?

Facebook's New Privacy Controls

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday that majors changes to privacy settings on the site would begin rolling out today. The world complained – and Facebook listened. Today, Zuck strode onto the stage at the Facebook headquarters in a grey hoodie to give those assembled the run-down on the new settings. To those in attendance, he appeared calm and confident. Somehow, though, I have a feeling that a bit of that cocky demeanor has shifted in recent weeks. Wouldn’t you lose a bit of your brashness if half the world was breathing down your neck? The changes outlined today are pretty major. That is an indication that Mark knows things were seriously screwed up, and he admitted as much during the press conference.

The changes to the privacy settings went into effect almost immediately once the live event started. As Mark reminded us of the Facebook philosophy that “the world is more open and connected when people are driven to share more,” millions of site users stared in wonderment at how simple it appears to be now. According to Mark, people want to share things… it’s human nature. Facebook wanted to make it possible for us to do so from the very beginning. He strongly believes that the best way to accomplish this is to give us control over what we share.

“We’ve gotten the sense that a lot of what we did – we didn’t communicate well and a lot of things got lost in that. We had to simplify controls and take things back to basics. Some things are valuable to share with everyone… but some things should remain private,” Zuckerberg stated quietly. His voice boomed a little louder as he said that it will eventually “get to a point where it’s so hard to control your information that people end up sharing far less, and that is something I never want to see happen.”

Beginning now, there are three major changes to the privacy control area on Facebook, all of which are outlined in a new guide on the site:

  • ONE SIMPLE CONTROL.
  • Changes will apply to all of your content retroactively. For example, if you change a setting today on your photos to only share them with friends, it will roll back and change all pictures you’ve ever posted to be only shared with friends.
  • These changes made today will apply to all new products going forward. If you later want to share your pictures with the world, you’re going to have to change the setting.

The default settings for all of your content can now be set with one single click. You will have “complete control over who sees your information,” says Zuck.

When it comes to your directory information, you will have less publicly available information, real privacy controls and the necessity for friends to find you. For third party apps, there is some excellent news: there is now one checkbox to turn off instant personalization. Mark says it would be “too confusing” to simply turn that off site-wide and start from scratch. Instead, you’ll have the option to click a box and opt-out of instant personalization. If you do, it will automagically delete all of your information from third party applications. This is fantastic news for many people out there who have been highly ticked off by the way their information was handled and processed by these apps.

All in all, the announcements are good. While Facebook didn’t switch everything to an “opt-in” process as many had hoped, they made every effort to keep their network of users happier.

Thanks to @scobleizer for getting this video of the press conference up so quickly!

New Facebook Privacy Settings Tomorrow

Yesterday, we discussed the announcement from Mark Zuckerberg in which he admits that the company has made mistakes when it comes to your privacy settings. Millions of people cannot be wrong when they collectively complain about the way the popular social networking site handles their information and buries privacy settings – making them nearly impossible to find and manage. Zuck and company have historically made sweeping changes without telling members about it ahead of time. There’s always a bit of backlash, but none as loud as what we’ve seen in recent weeks.

Two years ago, Mark told Marshall Kirkpatrick that “privacy control is the vector around which Facebook operates.” When remembering that statement, it is almost impossible to believe we are dealing with the same person. Back then, he talked often of the importance of user privacy. He swore our information would only ever be visible to the people we accept as friends. Perhaps Mark has forgotten he said such a thing? With the way things stand on the site today, nearly everything on your profile is visible and searchable by default. It’s difficult to navigate your way through the various settings and controls to set things up the way you feel they should be, so many people don’t even bother.

The good news is that beginning tomorrow (May 26, 2010) Facebook will begin introducing new simplified privacy controls. Facebook’s vice president of product Chris Cox announced today at TechCrunch Disrupt that the changes will include improved controls. He didn’t give any specific details to the attendees, so I guess we will have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.

Facebook currently has nearly 200 different privacy options and 50 privacy settings. It’s no wonder that the average person gets hopelessly lost when trying to figure out where they need to opt-out. Why the hell do they have to opt-out, anyway? Shouldn’t it be more of an opt-IN scenario? I’ve said many times that you shouldn’t put things on the Internet that you don’t want others to see. However, I know that humans will be human. They will continue to post things that may not be in their best interest. In light of that, the settings should be easy to find, easy to figure out, and they should be all about choosing to opt IN when it comes to sharing information.

You Demand, Facebook Listens

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg really does listen when the world complains about privacy settings on the popular site. Now, he’s promising changes over the coming weeks to address the concerns, promising “a simpler way to control your information.”

Zuck comes right out and admits that Facebook missed the mark when it comes to hitting the privacy control nail on the head. It’s impossible to anticipate how more than 400 million people will want to interact with a website, and they know they guessed wrong. Facebook plans to make it easier for you to control your information by making it simpler to make changes to your settings. The letter also guarantees you an easier way to turn off all third-party services.

The biggest message we have heard recently is that people want easier control over their information. Simply put, many of you thought our controls were too complex. Our intention was to give you lots of granular controls; but that may not have been what many of you wanted. We just missed the mark. We have also heard that some people don’t understand how their personal information is used and worry that it is shared in ways they don’t want. I’d like to clear that up now. Many people choose to make some of their information visible to everyone so people they know can find them on Facebook. We already offer controls to limit the visibility of that information and we intend to make them even stronger.

Did you really expect to see the words “I’m sorry” in the communique somewhere? As Jason Kinkaid put it over on TechCrunch: “expect them to try to push the envelope again in, oh, about six months. Hopefully users will be better educated about their privacy and how to control it when that time comes.” Zuckerberg doesn’t appear to be sorry about anything, nor does he feel they did anything wrong. Facebook pushed… they just didn’t expect their users to push back harder. While the company may make it easier for you to control your privacy soon, expect more unwelcome changes in the future.

Zuck himself says that “People want to share and stay connected with their friends and the people around them. If we give people control over what they share, they will want to share more. If people share more, the world will become more open and connected. And a world that’s more open and connected is a better world.” He and his team truly believes that the world needs to be more open – that YOU need to be more open. They will continue to push the envelope and look for ways that “force” you to be more open than you may even want to be.

Facebook and Privacy: Will the Twain Never Meet?


This guest post is contributed by Shannon Wills, she writes on the topic of Internet Service Providers . She welcomes your comments via email.

It’s an issue that’s dominating headlines on the web these days; it’s raking up the muck in the world of social media; even so, Facebook doesn’t seem to be bothered about all the controversy that its privacy issues (or lack of it) is generating. Just a few months ago, we were shocked at how private email messages sent within Facebook were sent to the wrong recipient; now it’s the turn of private chat messages and friend requests to be visible to your friends, if you knew how to make the right tweaks.

Of course Facebook fixed these security holes in a matter of hours, but the question we need to ask ourselves is – If this could happen twice over a period of three months, how many more security lapses can we expect in the future? How many of these will go unreported and stay unfixed? And even if they are reported and fixed, how many thousands of lives would have been affected in the interim?

The problem with social networks is that they allow other people control over your life. Of course, most problems arise because people are not careful about what they post online or because they leave their pages open for all and sundry to access. But then, what if you’re discreet about your postings, information and photos and have all your privacy settings in place so that only the people you allow access can see your page and all that is on it? Does that mean you’re automatically safe? Apparently not, because Facebook has this autonomous policy of revamping its privacy controls every now and then, and information that you had set as private is now open to the public by default. If you want privacy, you’re forced to go into the settings and change them again.

For example, the latest revamp allowed Facebook users to show up on public search listings even though they wanted to be visible only to their friends. And since there was no real intimation sent out (Facebook did send out vague emails about the new policies, but even these were hidden in a folder called Updates in your Messages. Not many people would bother to check this area because it does not show up in your Notifications. And as a result, what you assumed was private was now part of the public domain.

For the net savvy user, this is a minor irritant because they’re aware of all the latest security issues and they take care of the necessary fixes immediately. But for the average user, it’s a disaster waiting to happen if the wrong people gain access to information on their profile – relationships could be ruined, jobs lost, and feelings hurt in the process.

But no, Facebook does not care that most its users are not savvy enough to figure out that they have to opt out of certain privacy options, and no amount of protests or criticism is going to stop this giant of a social network from rolling on to boost its visibility on and dominance of the web. The only thing that could possibly help is the mass exodus of many of its users, but then, we’re an addicted lot – we may complain every now and then, but like any normal human being, we resign ourselves to the situation and go on to posting the next status update or comment, and privacy issues are relegated to a corner of the mind.

Facebook Serves Up Unwanted Apps

Amidst a slew of heated arguments this week surrounding Facebook’s stance on privacy, yet another blemish has been added to the mix. Many people woke up this morning to find that the popular site had decided to serve up unwanted apps without any consent or control on the part of the user.

This morning, Facebook quietly added apps to your profile for certain websites you may have visited while logged in to FB. You didn’t need to have an actual Facebook window open… you simply had to have not logged out after your session. There were no notifications nor any opt-out buttons to check or uncheck. Some of the sites whose apps were added include Mashable!, TechCrunch, and the USA Today (at least in MY profile). All of the sites who left this trail all have Facebook integration on their sites, and the app install appeared to have been related to the social networking site’s new sharing features and tools.

If a website installs something onto my computer without my knowledge or consent, that “something” is labeled as malware. In my mind, these apps were exactly that. They weren’t something I chose. They were installed on my profile without my even knowing it until this news broke. There was no way that I could easily find to remove them, either. Only after I read up on the announcement did I figure out how to get rid of them. The problem is, if I don’t completely block them they will just re-install the next time I visit those sites.

The new “features” in Facebook’s Open Graph API are supposedly there to be used with your permission to cross-post your comments between the site and external sources. For example, if you commented on a story over at TechCrunch, a pop-up will ask you if you want to publish the comment as a wall story on your Facebook profile, as well. YOU had the choice to allow this or not. This morning, that freedom to choose was stripped away from you.

Hours after the dam broke free, Facebook released a statement:

There was a bug that was showing applications on a user’s Application Settings page that the user hadn’t authorized. No information was shared with those applications, and the applications did not appear to anyone but the user. This bug has been fixed.

According to some reports, though, the problem still persists. While information may not be shared with the sites, their apps are still showing up in profiles after removal. The only way to completely get rid of them is to block them in your app settings.

This is but one more slap in the face for Facebook. However, the site appears to remain unconcerned. With the government already stepping in to attempt to reign in Zuckerberg and his team, I would think that the site would be more vigilant than ever when it comes to letting “bugs” such as this crawl through.

No Kids Meal Toys in Fattening Fare

Santa Clara County out in California has announced that they will now regulate what kids meals are allowed to give away toys in the hopes that your children will become healthier. Any meal which has more than 485 calories, 600 milligrams of sodium will no longer be allowed to offer a toy along with dinner. Additionally, if the meal has more than 35 percent of calories from fat or more than 10 percent of calories from added sugar, the toy ban will be imposed.

County Supervisor Ken Yeager says that the new ordinance will “prevent restaurants from preying on children’s love of toys to peddle high-calorie, high-fat, high-sodium kids’ meals.” This, of course, rules out those super-awesome Happy Meal toys that every child crave. Can you imagine where the world would be right now if we had never had the Beanie Baby craze several years ago? I shudder to think about it, honestly.

While I applaud the fact that the county wants to promote healthy eating, I cannot help but think there has to be a better way. Why are you going to deprive children of something they love because of bad choices their parents make for them?

All of the software and applications we collect for you are 100% calorie-free!

Leave Your Privacy at the Door

As I sat here about to wind down for the night, I noticed a new post by my friend Robert Scoble. Robert began an interesting discussion on his blog to talk about Facebook and privacy. All of the points he makes are right-on, and I found myself nodding in agreement much of the time I was reading.

It gets interesting, though, in the comments section. As Robert is fond of pointing out, that is usually always where you’ll find the most relevant opinions and discussions on any website. For instance, Brandon Soucie points out that “when it really comes down to it, how “private” are your interests, favorite music, movies, books, etc? And in what ways can it be harmful to have this information publicly accessible?” So what if Facebook tells the world what music I’m listening to? You’ve been able to find that out at any time during the past three years by tuning in to my live stream.

Much of the information that is no longer private on Facebook are things you already talked openly about, anyway. We tell the world via Twitter where we’re at nearly every moment thanks to check-in services like GoWalla and Foursquare. I see people updating regularly when their Pandora station plays a new song that they enjoy. People recommend their favorite movies, books and restaurants all over the Web. Why, then, are you so shocked and pissed that Facebook is giving out this same information?

I’m not trying to claim that there shouldn’t be boundaries and limitations. If Zuckerberg suddenly decided to display my address and social security number all over the place, we’d have a huge problem. However, that information isn’t even listed anywhere on the site. Facebook can only divulge what we feed into it. I don’t tell the site what time of day I get out of bed. I don’t post on my Wall every time I change my underwear. I don’t even discuss what I ate for dinner, for frick’s sake. I still have control of my “privacy.” No social networking site can take that away from me.

If you want something to stay private, you shouldn’t be posting it on the Internet. Long before everyone “Liked” everything, that was a golden rule of being online. Way before the days of e-Wars regarding privacy and sharing, we knew in our little brains that there are some things we should just keep quiet about. At the end of the day, you are still the one in the driver’s seat. You are the only person who can decide whether or not something should be shared.

If you don’t like the way Facebook is doing things these days, you don’t have to be a member. Continuing to use the service while complaining to anyone who will listen is not the way to help facilitate change. As Robert says, look for the positives in all of this. Keep your secrets close to your chest, and run out to expand your music horizons.