Tag Archives: online-privacy

How to Protect Your Privacy Online

Everyone is talking about privacy these days, and no one is happy with the state of things… especially when it comes to Facebook. I told you yesterday on Twitter: There are only two steps you need to follow in order to protect your privacy.

  • Step 1 – STOP SHARING SHIT YOU DON’T WANT THE WORLD TO DISCOVER.
  • Step 2 – See Step 1.

It really is that simple, folks. If you don’t want everyone, their brother and their mother to know something about you, why the hell are you posting it online to begin with? How many of the people who are screaming about having their privacy invaded are the ones who don’t want their bosses (or significant others) to see the pictures from their drunken night in Cancun? If you have secrets you don’t want the rest of civilization to discover, then you should keep that junk to yourself.

How often have you said something on Twitter or Facebook, only to regret it later? Perhaps your boss read your rant about work last week. Or maybe your mom stumbled across something you flippantly tweeted regarding the upcoming family reunion. Whatever the case may be, I have to repeat this again: If you don’t want everyone to know something, then sit down and close your pie hole. That may sound harsh, but apparently harsh is what it takes to get through to some people. There is no undo button on the Internet.

It was interesting to read some of the feedback on my FriendFeed page about this:

In other words, trust no company, trust no person. – Akiva Moskovitz

Side Bar: If you are going to share shit, make sure you know who can see it and take full advantage of any privacy tools. If you can’t lock it down to your liking, see somewhere you can and share there. Failing that, see Step 1. Never assume, it makes an ASS out of U and ME – Johnny Worthington

I’ve been saying this for years – Jesse Stay

Not that what I say matters – Jesse Stay

Or: Even vaults and safety deposit boxes can be broken into. It’s about risk and trust… and know each of them – Johnny Worthington

It’s not about the Sharing. It’s about the Basic Personal Info. – Christopher Galtenberg

If you don’t want Basic Personal Info shared online, don’t put it there. Again, it’s about risk. There is risk in leaving your credit card statements sitting in your letterbox or leaving your wallet on a counter for more that a sec. Risk Assessment. – Johnny Worthington

If the internet can’t deal with personal private data, it won’t work. I thought you felt this way too, JW. – Christopher Galtenberg

Christopher, the phone company can’t guarantee 100% security on calls (fixed lines or cellular), the mail can be tampered with, offices can be bugged, your baggage is scanned at the airport and your wallet can be stolen. No system, physical or digital, is 100% secure. China hacked Gmail. Shit, courier pigeons can be shot down. Since EVERYTHING is <100%, each person must undertake a risk assessment when sharing critical data. If you must have 100%, then a communication channel that is run by a series of commercial entities and less than stellar governments probably isn’t for you. That doesn’t mean it’s 0% secure (probably more like 90-95% secure) but looking for a perfect solution is futile unless you control every point, A to B. – Johnny Worthington

By your logic, JW, everything is actually safe (equally trustworthy, relatively) – Christopher Galtenberg

Not exactly. I trust my bank more than I do Facebook or Gmail… but I don’t assume my bank is just 100% safe. Levels of trust. I have performed risk assessments on each online entity and determined what I would feel comfortable about disclosing. – Johnny Worthington

Anything can be hacked. Anything can leak. Trust is a risk and some levels adjust over time, usually down to lower levels. – manielse (Mark Nielsen)

Back to the original post: that’s how I’ve always treated the Internet. Those MySpace/Facebook kiddies who have to show the whole world the most embarrassing stuff they do always appalled me. I’ve always been careful what I share online, even if I sometimes use my blogs or Twitter as a soapbox. – Dennis Jernberg

Indeed! *thinks back to the DYSP video* – Johnny Worthington

@Chris: And that, of course, is why we have to be so careful. Forethought… – Dennis Jernberg

What are your thoughts regarding privacy online? What measures do you take to make sure your information – and life – is secure?

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.