Tag Archives: privacy

Customize Your Google Page; There’s A Caveat Though…

Last week I heard the news that Google was going to allow people the opportunity to customize their main page. What they were going to do was to have certain images already set, but if you wanted to you could use your own image for the page.

I have to admit that I was excited. Though I have my Google page already altered thusly, there to the left (right click to see it bigger), via Stylish and Firefox, and I have that stupid sidebar shut down through a script on Greasemonkey, the idea of adding my own image was kind of appealing. And all we had to do was wait until, one day, the link to the bottom left of the Google screen popped up.

Mine popped up Sunday evening, and I thought that was pretty cool. I went to look to see what I had to do, and saw some choices already there. I saw that you also had to log in to your Google account, and for the first time I was sort of hesitant, and I wasn’t sure why. Then I realized why. The thing is if you want to use your own image, you must set up a Picasa account, which is their photo sharing site. Then you can upload your image and attach it to your page, and go on with your business. If you didn’t want to do that, you could upload one of their pictures, but you still have to have a Google account to use it, so that when you sign in it knows it’s you. Otherwise, you can stick with your white background, or do something like what I’ve done.

Here’s the thing about a Picasa account. If you have one, it pretty much means other people can go through your images. That’s what the user agreement says. I don’t have an account, so if there’s a way to make it private I don’t know about it. Still, the idea of someone being able to go through my personal pictures and use them for whatever reason they wish to bothers me somewhat. Yeah, I have some pictures on Facebook, but I knew that I’d be sharing those pictures with people I allow into my Facebook life, since that’s the kind of privacy I put on my account there. Anything beyond that, I’m not sure I want to deal with.

For me, I can do without it. Truthfully, if I wanted to tinker with it, I think, because I use Firefox, I could figure out a way to alter one of the scripts to use my own picture if I wanted to badly enough. However, overall, unless you really know what you’re doing, it’s not a great thing to go messing around with these scripts. That’s why my background is black instead of my favorite color, which is red.

Anyway, if you’re not quite as skittish as I am about sharing some of your images with the world, and you want to customize your Google page, go for it. It’s not a bad deal overall, and gets rid of the boring white. Lucky for me, I’ve already taken care of that on my favorite browser.

Sounds True, Inc.

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Facebook Says “Privacy? Pffbt!”

All the talk lately has been about Facebook, and with good reason. With just a few strokes and almost no real notification, Facebook has pretty much said none of us deserve privacy anymore.


Moments Of Privacy

Luckily, I was alerted to the first thing that they were going to do, which was releasing all of our information to their marketers. I even got a fix from one of my friends, which I posted as a comment, but now I’ll post here:

On the first one, go to your account. Under Privacy Settings for Applications, if you click there, you’ll see “Instant Personalization.” Unclick the box and you’re all set; supposedly.

At the time I thought that was that, but nope. The next thing I knew, I was on the site doing something else when this window pops up, telling me that I get to select which of my interests I want to link to some big pages that they were putting together. I didn’t think much about it, but selected two items and went about my business. It wasn’t until I read a post on a blog called Cre8pc Usability & Holistic SEO titled Facebook Removes Profile Choices (Kim must be big time; even Matt Cutts commented on this one lol) that I had to go back and see that indeed they had removed everything I had put onto that site 2 years ago that I said I liked except for the two I kept, one of which went to a fairly nonexistent page. That irked me so I went in and removed the other two, which wasn’t easy to figure out but I finally got it done.

At the same time they were doing that, they were creating community profiles for everyone to link to as well. I live in Liverpool NY, and they popped something up there for me, as well as where I went to college, the industries I listed on my business, where I went to school, etc. I only hooked up with one of those and canceled the rest, but to date at least they haven’t deleted any of my business information.

We might also end up having to watch out for some of our photos being used for purposes outside of our posting them just for our friends to see. That’s one of the rumors that’s going around, and based on everything else I’ve seen, I don’t doubt that could come. So, for those of you who have embarrassing images that you thought only your closest friends might ever see, you might want to think about whether you want to keep them on the site or not.

To say I’m disgruntled would be to minimize my feelings. To say I’m at the point that Dan of Rocket.ly is at, which he expressed in his post titled Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook is would be overstating things a bit. At this point I still get more benefit out of Facebook than how much they’re irritating me, but it’s getting close to a point where it’ll be Sydney or the Bush (anyone who’s a long time Peanuts reader will understand that quote). The idea that we were all lured into something just to build up numbers so they could spring all of this on us bothers me, especially if it was always the plan. Facebook has almost turned into Google, since neither one believes that anyone should have any privacy whatsoever (I wonder if Sergey or or Larry will share their bank account numbers with me for a few days ), only Facebook got us to give it up voluntarily.

Although I’ve had some interesting conversations with my buddy Blog Bloke over his post Privacy and Security in a Social Media World, I have to admit that he’s got it right on many aspects of what’s going on now. Not that I ever thought he was totally wrong; after all, Google has shown that it has the power to segregate whomever they decide they don’t like for whatever reason they don’t like (such as taking away my page rank), which destroys the aura of links and activity being the only determinant as to how well a person’s website is doing on the internet. It’s really just more of a warning to us all that Pandora’s Box is open, and none of that stuff is ever going back in.

For his part in this, Zuckerberg had this to say at f8: “It really has no privacy implications. I think this means people will be sharing less information when they don’t need to around the Web.” As Dr. Phil would say, “did someone write the word ‘stupid’ on my forehead?”

Decide now if you want to be online or not; it may be the only way you keep even a modicum of privacy in your life, because trust me, there’s a lot of information on almost everyone online already, whether you did anything or not.

Meanwhile, if you want to take a shot at protecting your information, check out the video below; if you’d rather read, follow this link to the Electronic Frontier Foundation site.

By the way, remember that tomorrow is Mother’s Day!
 

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Facebook Changes And Alter Egos

Facebook has been busy lately. There’s all sorts of changes going on, some controversial, some seemingly unnecessary, and all generating a lot of buzz and noise. Let’s take a look at some of it.

The first thing they’ve done is announced that they’re going to be sharing our personal information with some of their advertising partners so those advertisers can “better serve our needs.” Frankly I don’t like this one bit, and the only thing I’m thankful for is that I have Firefox as my browser, so I have a script running that blocks almost all ads already. Still, the idea that they’re sharing my information, such as it is, with anyone else is irritating.

The difference between this and Beacon, if you remember that, is that you won’t be tracked all across the internet, which is what Beacon was going to do. So, you now have to make more decisions as to what you’re sharing on Facebook with others. I’m fairly secure; I have my business information, some stuff about books, and I occasionally post something either business related or funny; anyone tracking me isn’t going to know what to make of me.

The second thing they’ve announced is that they’ve partnered with thousands of sites to add a “Like” button somewhere on those sites. This means if you’re surfing and you see something that’s interested you or that you were intrigued by, you can click on that button and it will show up on your wall so your friends can see what you like. Once again, this is a choice you get to make, so I don’t have a major problem with that, since I can’t see this being anything I’m going to use that often. I say it that way because I’m known to go to Twitter and post links to things I’ve read that I find intriguing, so you never know. And, once again, if the partners are tracking my wall they’re going to be confused as sin.

Next, you saw my post about creating a Facebook fan page for my business a few days ago. Well, Facebook is now changing “become a fan” to “like” as well, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since I’ve always cringed a little about the fan thing. However, they’re also going into what’s known as “real time search”, which means anything you hook on to or say will be immediately searchable on Google, Bing, etc. Now, your words and actions will be able to be tracked on the search engines whether or not other people are on Facebook or not; ouch! For me, I have no problem with the groups I join, but for some, joining a group with a name such as “Big Breasted Babes In England” showing up on the internet if they’ve applied for a job and HR is researching their information isn’t going to be something they’re going to be able to get away from.

What all of this has prompted is some outrage, and some people having a bit of fun at their expense. Has anyone checked out Lamebook, the Facebook parody site? There’s over 100,000 people who are following it; just amazing. If you look at it, you’ll notice that it has a couple of things that are also on Facebook, such as “comment” and “like”, but it has something else called “dislike”. It turns out that many people are wishing Facebook would add a Dislike button, and indeed this guy has created an application for Firefox called Facebook Dislike Button. What people will think of, right?

What’s my opinion? We can’t be surprised anymore by some of the things Facebook is doing. They deserve to make money, and they’re still not going to a paid model like Ning. If they’re sharing your information with advertisers, well, if you put stupid stuff on there that’s on you. Something I’m surprised about is how many websites you can go to where they’ll allow you to sign into your Facebook account to comment, and even if you haven’t signed in if you’ve signed in on your browser and haven’t signed out, you visit sites and you’ll see people who are your friends on there and what they’re saying in their news stream, as well as other Facebook people who have intentionally signed in to comment on something on the page you’re on. In other words, we’re already being tracked to some degree, and we didn’t even get to see any terms of service on it.

So it goes; how are you liking social media?

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Sometimes You Should Read The Terms Of Use

Okay, stay with me for a minute. I was going through Kristi’s weekly Fetching Friday listing, where this week one of my posts was mentioned (thanks Kristi), and came upon an article she was highlighting called 10 Firefox Addons For Affiliate Marketers from the blog Ace Affiliates.

Always someone who’s looking for the next big thing, I went to read that article, and one of the Firefox addons it recommended was something called Ghostery. It seems to do two things for you. One, it lets you know how safe a website is that you’re visiting. Two, it allows you to block sites from tracking your IP address and the like.

That second one is very intriguing to me. I was talking to my friend Kelvin about it and saying how freaked out I was when I go to websites, such as MSNBC, and see all the ads that are targeted for me knowing that I live in the Syracuse, NY area. He said he didn’t know of anything that could block that, so I thought this might be the plugin for me.

When I went to the page where the addon is, it looked different than what I’m used to seeing. There’s no description of what the addon is about, and there’s this big block in the middle with only one line: Ghostery requires that you accept the following End-User License Agreement before installation can proceed. And in the box there’s only one thing: http://www.ghostery.com/terms. Now, maybe it looks that way because I’m running Adblock, but it looked strange.

This tasked me (a line from Star Trek II; Wrath of Khan), so I decided I wanted to read the terms of service for using this particular addon. Overall, it was the same standard stuff you see everywhere else, but suddenly I came upon a line I didn’t like, under privacy: You acknowledge that the Software will contact GHOSTERY and send limited information about the websites you visit to GHOSTERY’s databases.

Come on now; y’all know me! I’m the guy who has a problem with Google Toolbar tracking our movements, to the point that I won’t use it anymore once I learned it did that. I’m certainly not letting some other group of folks track where I go; wasn’t the point of using their software so you could go to websites without them knowing where you were coming from, as in “tracking” you? I’m going to give up my privacy to these guys who I don’t know to get privacy from sites that I at least have some idea of who they are?

Many times I don’t read terms of service, just like most people don’t when we want to use something. However, the way this was segregated looked, well, suspicious. They might have specific reasons for wanting to track people, as in making sure the software works. And, of course we all have the right to use or not use something.

I’m choosing not to use it; that doesn’t sound surprising, does it? So, I’m still on a quest to find something that will aid me in my privacy efforts. Sure, I know that there’s no real privacy online, but I’d still like to find a way to decide when I want to give up information about myself and when I don’t.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mitch Mitchell