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Internet privacy bulletin, 2012

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[Sep 21, 2012 ] Microsoft Urging Safari Users To Use Bing

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-tried-the-rest-now-try-the-best dept.

New submitter SquarePixel writes

sizset="183">"Microsoft is urging Safari users to switch to Bing after Google was fined $22.5 million for violating Safari privacy settings. 'Microsoft is keen to make sure that no-one forgets this, let alone Safari users, and the page summarizes the events that took place.'

It tells users how Google promised not to track Safari users, but tracked them without their permission and used this data to serve them advertisement.

Lastly, it tells how Google was fined $22.5 million for this and suggests users to try the more privacy oriented Bing search engine."

drinkypoo:

MS DID get caught, sniffing peoples google sear

What is the difference between what Bing did and what google does?

The difference is that Microsoft has spying technology built right into the browser, it's called compatibility view updates, and their search suggestion system. With Google you have to choose to be tracked.

fredgiblet:

DuckDuckGo's entire advertising strategy is based off of privacy.

Cinder6

I started using DuckDuckGo exclusively just a couple days ago. So far I'm liking it a lot--search results seem just as good as Google's, if not better in some cases. With that said, I actually miss Google's Instant search in Chrome. On the other hand, the bang keywords are nice on those rare occasions I'm not using Chrome (for the uninitiated, adding "!amazon", for example, opens the Amazon.com search result page for your query).

symbolset

Yahoo!'s boss came from Google. She's not a Google tool, but she did used to date one: Larry Page. Depending on how that ended they may she may be more open to a mutually beneficial relationship than the old boss. Or she may want to kill Google. Or maybe both, depending on the lunar calendar. Who knows? She's knocked up right now and so not as susceptible to lunacy as young owners of her gender usually are.

Oh, God am I going to get hate for this post. It's humor folks. Laugh a little. If we can't enjoy the human condition and find it funny, what have we got?

SuperKendall:

Just because Google does stupid shit does not mean Microsoft does not also deserve to be called out for doing stupid shit.

But we can note when Google is worse.

Google's G+ integration includes G+ results being promoted in the search stream.

Microsoft's Facebook integration does not alter your search results.

And G+ is sucking a lot more of your personal information (including search habits) into Google. At least with Microsoft there remains some division between what Facebook gets and what Microsoft gets.

[Jul 23, 2012] The Onion Facebook Is CIA's Dream Come True [SATIRE] by Stan Schroeder

Compare with Assange- Facebook, Google, Yahoo spying tools for US intelligence

As the "single most powerful tool for population control," the CIA's "Facebook program" has dramatically reduced the agency's costs - at least according to the latest "report" from the satirical mag The Onion.

Perhaps inspired by a recent interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who called Facebook "the most appalling spy machine that has ever been invented," The Onion's video fires a number of arrows in Facebook's direction - with hilarious results.

In the video, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is dubbed "The Overlord" and is shown receiving a "medal of intelligence commendation" for his work with the CIA's Facebook program.

The Onion also takes a jab at FarmVille (which is responsible for "pacifying" as much as 85 million people after unemployment rates rose), Twitter (which is called useless as far as data gathering goes), and Foursquare (which is said to have been created by Al Qaeda).

Check out the video below and tell us in the comments what you think.

CIA's 'Facebook' Program Dramatically Cut Agency's Costs Onion News Network

[Jul 7, 2012] The CIA wants to spy on you through your TV Agency director says net-connected gadgets will 'transform' surveillance Mail On By Rob Waugh

16 March 2012

Petraeus says that web-connected gadgets will 'transform' the art of spying - allowing spies to monitor people automatically without planting bugs, breaking and entering or even donning a tuxedo to infiltrate a dinner party.

'Transformational' is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,' said Petraeus.

'Particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft. Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters - all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing.'

Petraeus was speaking to a venture capital firm about new technologies which aim to add processors and web connections to previously 'dumb' home appliances such as fridges, ovens and lighting systems.

This week, one of the world's biggest chip companies, ARM, has unveiled a new processor built to work inside 'connected' white goods.

The ARM chips are smaller, lower-powered and far cheaper than previous processors - and designed to add the internet to almost every kind of electrical appliance.

It's a concept described as the 'internet of things'.

[Jul 7, 2012] Julian Assange- Facebook Is a Spy Machine [VIDEO]

May 02, 2011 | mashable.com

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says Facebook, Google, and Yahoo are actually tools for the U.S. intelligence community.

Speaking to Russian news site RT in an interview published yesterday, Assange was especially critical of the world's top social network. He reportedly said that the information Facebook houses is a potential boon for the U.S. government if it tries to build up a dossier on users.

"Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented," Assange said in the interview, which was videotaped and published on the site. "Here we have the world's most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and the communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to U.S. intelligence."

If that's the case, it might surprise some that WikiLeaks has its very own Facebook page. In fact, last year, when WikiLeaks released a controversial batch of confidential documents--putting Assange on the run--Facebook refused to shut down that page. The company said at the time that the page did not "violate our content standards nor have we encountered any material posted on the page that violates our policies."

Facebook's response stood in stark contrast to the treatment of WikiLeaks by many other companies in the U.S. last year. Several firms, including PayPal, blocked the company's accounts.

But Assange didn't just stop at Facebook. He also told RT that in addition to the world's largest social network, Google and Yahoo "have built-in interfaces for U.S. intelligence."

"It's not a matter of serving a subpoena," he told RT. "They have an interface that they have developed for U.S. intelligence to use."

Surprisingly, Assange didn't mention Twitter, another major social network with which his organization has run into trouble.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Justice Department sent a court order to Twitter, requesting the social network deliver information from accounts of activists that allegedly had ties to WikiLeaks. In March, the Justice Department was granted access to those accounts following a judge's ruling in favor of the seizure. Last month, the Justice Department said that complaints over its desire to obtain Twitter information is "absurd," and its actions are quite common in criminal investigations.

However, the Justice Department didn't secure a search warrant for access to the information. Instead, it obtained a 2703(d) order, allowing investigators to secure online records that are "relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation."

For U.S. intelligence, getting information from Facebook is much easier, Assange said in the interview. He reportedly told RT that the U.S. intelligence community's use of "legal and political pressure" on Facebook is enough for it get what it wants.

"Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies in building this database for them," Assange said, according to the RT interview.

For its part, Facebook disagrees with Assange's sentiment. In a written statement to CNET, a Facebook spokesman said that it does only what's legal--and nothing more.

"We don't respond to pressure, we respond to compulsory legal process," the spokesman told CNET. "There has never been a time we have been pressured to turn over data [and] we fight every time we believe the legal process is insufficient. The legal standards for compelling a company to turn over data are determined by the laws of the country, and we respect that standard."

[Jul 7, 2012] The Government Is Monitoring Facebook And Twitter

I think that it would be stupid not to do so...
Dec 14, 2009 | Newsbusters.org

"The government is increasingly monitoring Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites for tax delinquents, copyright infringers and political protesters."

So ominously began an editorial in Sunday's New York Times.

Those with accounts at such websites should pay attention, for according to the Times, and other sources, Big Brother is watching you:

The Wall Street Journal reported this summer that state revenue agents have been searching for tax scofflaws by mining information on MySpace and Facebook. In October, the F.B.I. searched the New York home of a man suspected of helping coordinate protests at the Group of 20 meeting in Pittsburgh by sending out messages over Twitter.

The Boston Globe reported on this matter in January:

In an informal survey of 14 departments in this area, officials in half of them said they use social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace in detective work - particularly in investigations involving young people.

Wired magazine reported in October:

America's spy agencies want to read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates - even check out your book reviews on Amazon.

In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the wider intelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media.

It's part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using "open source intelligence" - information that's publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.

The Times continued:

This month the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law sued the Department of Defense, the C.I.A. and other federal agencies under the Freedom of Information Act to learn more about their use of social networking sites.

The suit seeks to uncover what guidelines these agencies have about this activity, including information about whether agents are permitted to use fake identities or to engage in subterfuge, such as tricking people into accepting Facebook friend requests.

Privacy law was largely created in the pre-Internet age, and new rules are needed to keep up with the ways people communicate today. Much of what occurs online, like blog posting, is intended to be an open declaration to the world, and law enforcement is within its rights to read and act on what is written. Other kinds of communication, particularly in a closed network, may come with an expectation of privacy. If government agents are joining social networks under false pretenses to spy without a court order, for example, that might be crossing a line.

Scary stuff indeed.

So be careful with your next Tweet or Facebook status, for you never know who's watching.

On the other hand, it will be interesting to see how Obama-loving media follow this story.

After all, the press were constantly bashing the Bush White House concerning electronic surveillance designed to protect the nation from terrorist attacks.

The Times might be pleased with itself by publishing an editorial on this subject in its opinion section, but under the previous administration, this would have resulted in a front page story with thousands of words.

The Times published a piece in its Business section last November that touched on this very subject:

Propelled by new technologies and the Internet's steady incursion into every nook and cranny of life, collective intelligence offers powerful capabilities, from improving the efficiency of advertising to giving community groups new ways to organize.

But even its practitioners acknowledge that, if misused, collective intelligence tools could create an Orwellian future on a level Big Brother could only dream of.

Collective intelligence could make it possible for insurance companies, for example, to use behavioral data to covertly identify people suffering from a particular disease and deny them insurance coverage. Similarly, the government or law enforcement agencies could identify members of a protest group by tracking social networks revealed by the new technology. "There are so many uses for this technology - from marketing to war fighting - that I can't imagine it not pervading our lives in just the next few years," says Steve Steinberg, a computer scientist who works for an investment firm in New York.

In a widely read Web posting, he argued that there were significant chances that it would be misused, "This is one of the most significant technology trends I have seen in years; it may also be one of the most pernicious."

Twelve months later, and under a new supposedly more open administration, such fears are being realized.

Will the monitoring of social networking sites by government agencies produce similar outrage with a Democrat in the White House?

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2009/12/14/government-monitoring-facebook-twitter#ixzz23uGDOvVu

[Jul 7, 2012] FBI, Feds collect Facebook, social media data; Why are you surprised By Larry Dignan

March 17, 2010 | ZDNet

Summary: The Feds have training courses on gathering information on social networks, identifying relationships, chasing the bad guys and going undercover, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The biggest surprise: That this would surprise anyone.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service have training courses on gathering information on social networks, identifying relationships, chasing the bad guys and going undercover, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The biggest surprise: Social networking users are surprised by any of this government activity.

Looking at the headlines about the government's documents on how to use social networking and it's surprising that anyone thinks this is a big deal. Undercover Feds on Facebook? Gasp! IRS using social networking to piece together a few facts that illustrate you lied about your taxes? Oooh.

Give me a break. Why wouldn't the Feds use these tools? They'd be idiots if they didn't. Repeat after me:

Let's face it; folks are broadcasting everything from the breakfast they eat to their bowel movements to when and where they are on vacation. They use services that track every movement they make (willingly!) on Foursquare and Google Latitude. Why wouldn't an FBI agent chasing a perp get into some idiot's network so he can track him everywhere? It's called efficiency people.

[Jul 7, 2012] Internet Has Become 'Surveillance Machine' by Julian Assange

Nov 28, 2011 | Common Dreams
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange blasted the mainstream media, Washington, banks and the Internet itself as he addressed journalists in Hong Kong on Monday via videolink from house arrest in England.

The Internet itself had become "the most significant surveillance machine that we have ever seen," Assange said in reference to the amount of information people give about themselves online. (photo: Andrew Winning, Reuters) Fresh from accepting a top award for journalism from the prestigious Walkley Foundation in his native Australia on Sunday, Assange spoke to the News World Summit in Hong Kong before keeping a regular appointment with the police.

He defended his right to call himself a journalist and said WikiLeaks' next "battle" would be to ensure that the Internet does not turn into a vast surveillance tool for governments and corporations.

"Of course I'm a goddamn journalist," he responded with affected frustration when a moderator of the conference asked if he was a member of the profession.

He said his written record spoke for itself and argued that the only reason people kept asking him if he was a journalist was because the United States' government wanted to silence him.

"The United States government does not want legal protection for us," he said, referring to a US Justice Department investigation into his whistle-blower website for releasing secret diplomatic and military documents.

The former hacker criticized journalists and the mainstream media for becoming too cozy with the powerful and secretive organizations they were supposed to be holding to account.

In a 40-minute address, he also accused credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard of illegally cutting WikiLeaks off from funding under a secret deal with the White House.

"Issues that should be decided in open court are being decided in back rooms in Washington," he said.

The Internet itself had become "the most significant surveillance machine that we have ever seen," Assange said in reference to the amount of information people give about themselves online.

"It's not an age of transparency at all ... the amount of secret information is more than ever before," he said, adding that information flows in but is not flowing out of governments and other powerful organizations.

"I see that really is our big battle. The technology gives and the technology takes away," he added.

The anti-secrecy activist then help up a handwritten sign from an aide telling him to "stop" talking or he would be late for a mandatory appointment with police.

Assange, 40, is under house arrest in England pending the outcome of a Swedish extradition request over claims of rape and sexual assault made by two women. He says he is the victim of a smear campaign.

Introduction to Social Network Methods Chapter 1 Social Network Data

On one hand, there really isn't anything about social network data that is all that unusual. Social network analysts do use a specialized language for describing the structure and contents of the sets of observations that they use. But, network data can also be described and understood using the ideas and concepts of more familiar methods, like cross-sectional survey research.

On the other hand, the data sets that social network analysts develop usually end up looking quite different from the conventional rectangular data array so familiar to survey researchers and statistical analysts. The differences are quite important because they lead us to look at our data in a different way -- and even lead us to think differently about how to apply statistics.

"Conventional" social science data consist of a rectangular array of measurements. The rows of the array are the cases, or subjects, or observations. The columns consist of scores (quantitative or qualitative) on attributes, or variables, or measures. A simple example is shown as figure 1.1. Each cell of the array then describes the score of some actor (row) on some attribute (column). In some cases, there may be a third dimension to these arrays, representing panels of observations or multiple groups.

[Jul 3, 2012] Facebook Is Using You by Joon Mo Kang

Feb 5, 2012 | NYTimes.com

LAST week, Facebook filed documents with the government that will allow it to sell shares of stock to the public. It is estimated to be worth at least $75 billion. But unlike other big-ticket corporations, it doesn't have an inventory of widgets or gadgets, cars or phones. Facebook's inventory consists of personal data - yours and mine.

Facebook makes money by selling ad space to companies that want to reach us. Advertisers choose key words or details - like relationship status, location, activities, favorite books and employment - and then Facebook runs the ads for the targeted subset of its 845 million users. If you indicate that you like cupcakes, live in a certain neighborhood and have invited friends over, expect an ad from a nearby bakery to appear on your page. The magnitude of online information Facebook has available about each of us for targeted marketing is stunning. In Europe, laws give people the right to know what data companies have about them, but that is not the case in the United States.

Facebook made $3.2 billion in advertising revenue last year, 85 percent of its total revenue. Yet Facebook's inventory of data and its revenue from advertising are small potatoes compared to some others. Google took in more than 10 times as much, with an estimated $36.5 billion in advertising revenue in 2011, by analyzing what people sent over Gmail and what they searched on the Web, and then using that data to sell ads. Hundreds of other companies have also staked claims on people's online data by depositing software called cookies or other tracking mechanisms on people's computers and in their browsers. If you've mentioned anxiety in an e-mail, done a Google search for "stress" or started using an online medical diary that lets you monitor your mood, expect ads for medications and services to treat your anxiety.

Ads that pop up on your screen might seem useful, or at worst, a nuisance. But they are much more than that. The bits and bytes about your life can easily be used against you. Whether you can obtain a job, credit or insurance can be based on your digital doppelgänger - and you may never know why you've been turned down.

Material mined online has been used against people battling for child custody or defending themselves in criminal cases. LexisNexis has a product called Accurint for Law Enforcement, which gives government agents information about what people do on social networks. The Internal Revenue Service searches Facebook and MySpace for evidence of tax evaders' income and whereabouts, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has been known to scrutinize photos and posts to confirm family relationships or weed out sham marriages. Employers sometimes decide whether to hire people based on their online profiles, with one study indicating that 70 percent of recruiters and human resource professionals in the United States have rejected candidates based on data found online. A company called Spokeo gathers online data for employers, the public and anyone else who wants it. The company even posts ads urging "HR Recruiters - Click Here Now!" and asking women to submit their boyfriends' e-mail addresses for an analysis of their online photos and activities to learn "Is He Cheating on You?"

Stereotyping is alive and well in data aggregation. Your application for credit could be declined not on the basis of your own finances or credit history, but on the basis of aggregate data - what other people whose likes and dislikes are similar to yours have done. If guitar players or divorcing couples are more likely to renege on their credit-card bills, then the fact that you've looked at guitar ads or sent an e-mail to a divorce lawyer might cause a data aggregator to classify you as less credit-worthy. When an Atlanta man returned from his honeymoon, he found that his credit limit had been lowered to $3,800 from $10,800. The switch was not based on anything he had done but on aggregate data. A letter from the company told him, "Other customers who have used their card at establishments where you recently shopped have a poor repayment history with American Express."

Even though laws allow people to challenge false information in credit reports, there are no laws that require data aggregators to reveal what they know about you. If I've Googled "diabetes" for a friend or "date rape drugs" for a mystery I'm writing, data aggregators assume those searches reflect my own health and proclivities. Because no laws regulate what types of data these aggregators can collect, they make their own rules.

In 2007 and 2008, the online advertising company NebuAd contracted with six Internet service providers to install hardware on their networks that monitored users' Internet activities and transmitted that data to NebuAd's servers for analysis and use in marketing. For an average of six months, NebuAd copied every e-mail, Web search or purchase that some 400,000 people sent over the Internet. Other companies, like Healthline Networks Inc., have in-house limits on which private information they will collect. Healthline does not use information about people's searches related to H.I.V., impotence or eating disorders to target ads to people, but it will use information about bipolar disorder, overactive bladder and anxiety, which can be as stigmatizing as the topics on its privacy-protected list.

In the 1970s, a professor of communication studies at Northwestern University named John McKnight popularized the term "redlining" to describe the failure of banks, insurers and other institutions to offer their services to inner city neighborhoods. The term came from the practice of bank officials who drew a red line on a map to indicate where they wouldn't invest. But use of the term expanded to cover a wide array of racially discriminatory practices, such as not offering home loans to African-Americans, even those who were wealthy or middle class.

Now the map used in redlining is not a geographic map, but the map of your travels across the Web. The term Weblining describes the practice of denying people opportunities based on their digital selves. You might be refused health insurance based on a Google search you did about a medical condition. You might be shown a credit card with a lower credit limit, not because of your credit history, but because of your race, sex or ZIP code or the types of Web sites you visit.

Data aggregation has social implications as well. When young people in poor neighborhoods are bombarded with advertisements for trade schools, will they be more likely than others their age to forgo college? And when women are shown articles about celebrities rather than stock market trends, will they be less likely to develop financial savvy? Advertisers are drawing new redlines, limiting people to the roles society expects them to play.

Data aggregators' practices conflict with what people say they want. A 2008 Consumer Reports poll of 2,000 people found that 93 percent thought Internet companies should always ask for permission before using personal information, and 72 percent wanted the right to opt out of online tracking. A study by Princeton Survey Research Associates in 2009 using a random sample of 1,000 people found that 69 percent thought that the United States should adopt a law giving people the right to learn everything a Web site knows about them. We need a do-not-track law, similar to the do-not-call one. Now it's not just about whether my dinner will be interrupted by a telemarketer. It's about whether my dreams will be dashed by the collection of bits and bytes over which I have no control and for which companies are currently unaccountable.

Lori Andrews is a law professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law and the author of "I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy."

A version of this op-ed appeared in print on February 5, 2012, on page SR7 of the New York edition with the headline: Facebook Is Using You.

[Jul 3, 2012] Criticism of Facebook - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[Jul 2, 2012] With Search+, Google Fires Another Shot at Facebook Wired Business by Mike Isaak

Jan 10, 2012 | Wired.com

If last year's launch of Google+ was the search giant's first shot in the social wars, consider the new Search plus Your World product its Blitzkrieg.

Launched Tuesday, Google's new Search+ initiative integrates results culled from your Google+ social network connections into Google search queries, a major step into providing relevant social content into the company's namesake product.

When you search for a term - say, "Netflix," for example - the new product will serve up private and public instances of "Netflix" pulled from people you're connected with on Google+, including photos, links and status updates. In addition, relevant Google+ profiles, personalities and brand pages will also be folded into results.

So a search for Netflix could yield the official site, a news story about the company, a link to a friend from Google+ talking about Netflx, and the like. Further, all of these results are tailored specifically to those friends in your network, so each person's results will be personalized and completely different.

See also: 'Has Google Popped the Filter Bubble?' By Steven Levy

It's a huge move for Google, a company which made its bilions indexing web pages with its advanced algorithms. The company's origins are rooted in text-based search, using Larry Page's now-famous "Page Rank" system to create a hierarchy of relevancy for when users entered search queries. Over the years, search progressed: Google added video, images, its Instant product, and the like. The early Oughts gave rise to an age of search, so much so that "Googling" was deemed a verb in our official English lexicon.

But as the decade progressed, another phenomenon began to take over - social. Facebook grew from a small site created in Mark Zuckerberg's Harvard dorm room to a global presence, now boasting over 800 million users. Twitter sees millions of tweets pass through its pipes monthly. Social network LinkedIn is one of the most watched companies in the Valley. And social gaming giant Zynga just filed a multi-billion-dollar IPO in December.

And as users flocked to the platform, a different kind of search evolved. It was a search based on items which users didn't even know they wanted. Facebook begat "likes," a way of notifying others that you like (or are at the very least interested in) something. 'Likes' spread fast, and liking became another way to find new and relevant content from friends.

And as Facebook widened its reach over time, Google fell further and further behind.

"One of the signals that we haven't take as much advantage of as we should have is that all of [our search results] were written by people," said Jack Menzel, director of search product management, in an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). "And you, the searcher, are a unique person, looking for info specifically relevant to you."

So the introduction of Google's new Search+ additions ultimately serve a twofold purpose: First, Google is using the strength of its insanely popular search product to bolster its fledgling social network. As of today, Google+ has a user base somewhere in the tens of millions - far behind that of Facebook. Considering the millions upon millions of search queries entered every single day, and the implications of folding Google+ information into those results, it's a easy way to leverage the power of Google's existing properties into beefing up its young one.

Second, it provides Google with an entire cache of new information relevance. Google and Facebook made headlines last year after Google alluded to issues with indexing Facebook users' individual profile data for Google's search results. In vague terms, Google search seemed limited in how much Facebook data it was privy to. And in an age where social sharing has grown far more relevant than ever before, that's a huge chunk of pertinent information.

So Google has decided to go within for that data. User posts and data can now be searched for relevant content, and served up to individuals. While it's nowhere near as extensive as Facebook's treasure trove of personal data, it's a fine start for Google's push into social.

The new products could, however, yield a number of problems for Google. For instance, if a user searches for a recent New York Times article using Google and search results yield both the article itself and a post from a Google+ friend who shared the article, the user may click on the friend's shared result, possibly read the headline and not end up going to the publisher's site, instead sticking inside of the Google+ environment. That means fewer clicks for The New York Times, and few ad dollars in the long run.

Further, Google has never had much luck in the realm of privacy, and adding personal results to search queries could cause user upheaval. Privacy scares and Google aren't strangers.

[Jul 2, 2012] Student campaigns against Facebook data collection - News ...

And Mark Zuckerberg's social network could reportedly face a fine if auditors uncover any breaches of data protection law in an investigation planned for the next ten days.

"I was given a CD with all of the information about friend requests I had ignored, people I had 'defriended', even messages I had deleted. Facebook had kept it all. The scary thing was, with a simple 'Ctrl+F' search function on the computer, I could search for terms and key words. I found it was possible to build up a picture of who I am, what I like, who I might vote for," said Mr Schrems.

He added: "There is a lot of data in there which is personal, which people might want to delete at some point but which Facebook is keeping hold of. And, since it is held in the USA, Europeans do not have the same sort of protection as they might have at home. They are subject to American laws like the Patriot Act, which could mean their data is released without their consent."

Mr Schrems, who has set up a website for his campaign called 'Europe versus Facebook', said he was confident of winning on "at least a few of the counts".

Facebook said it provided Mr Schrems with "all of the information required in response to his request". A spokesman added that some of the data requests would have required Facebook to give away the "secrets" of how its algorithms work.

She said the requests covered "a range of other things that are not personal information, including Facebook's proprietary fraud protection measures, and 'any other analytical procedure that Facebook runs'. This is clearly not personal data, and Irish data protection law rightly places some valuable and reasonable limits on the data that has to be provided".

The spokeswoman said: "The allegations are false. For example, we enable you to send emails to your friends, inviting them to join Facebook. We keep the invitees' email address and name to let you know when they join the service.

"Also, as part of offering people messaging services, we enable people to delete messages they receive from their inbox and messages they send from their sent folder. However, people can't delete a message they send from the recipient's inbox or a message you receive from the sender's sent folder," the spokeswoman added.

[Jul 2, 2012] Is Facebook a Passing Fad Nearly Half of Americans Think So [STUDY]

Facebook is a data collection agency masquerading as a social site

Nearly half of Americans believe that popular social-networking site Facebook is merely a passing fad, a new study suggests.

A poll conducted by the Associated Press and CNBC found that 46% of respondents think Facebook will fade away as new platforms come along in the future. However, about 43% believe the site will likely be successful for the long haul.

The study was conducted among 1,000 Americans ages 18 and over, with a margin of error of 3.9%.

The survey comes as Facebook readies for its initial public offering later this week. The company confirmed on Tuesday that shares will be priced between $34 and $38, with the company's valuation at more than $100 billion.

[Jul 2, 2012] At Social Site, Only the Businesslike Need Apply By BRAD STONE

Jun 18, 2008 | NYTimes.com

For a Web site, it could hardly look less exciting. Its pages are heavy with text, much of it a flat blue, and there are few photos and absolutely no videos.

But LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, is dull by design. Unlike Facebook and MySpace, the site is aimed at career-minded, white-collar workers, people who join more for the networking than the social.

Now, in the midst of Silicon Valley's recession-proof enthusiasm for community-oriented Web sites, the most boring of the social networks is finally grabbing the spotlight.

On Wednesday, LinkedIn will announce that it has raised $53 million in capital, primarily from Bain Capital Ventures, a Boston-based private equity firm. The new financing round values the company at $1 billion. That heady valuation is more than the $580 million that the News Corporation paid for MySpace in 2005, but less than the $15 billion value assigned to Facebook last year when Microsoft bought a minority stake.

LinkedIn's investment round delays a rumored initial public offering, which would have finally tested the public market's interest in social networking.

"What we didn't want is to have the distraction of being public and to be worried by quarterly performance," said Dan Nye, the buttoned-down chief executive of LinkedIn, who would not be caught dead in the Birkenstocks and rumpled T-shirts favored by MySpace and Facebook employees.

LinkedIn, which says it is already profitable, will use the investment to make acquisitions and expand its overseas operations.

"We want to create a broad and critical business tool that is used by tens of millions of business professionals every day to make them better at what they do," Mr. Nye said.

The average age of a LinkedIn user is 41, the point in life where people are less likely to build their digital identities around dates, parties and photos of revelry.

LinkedIn gives professionals, even the most hopeless wallflower, a painless way to follow the advice of every career counselor: build a network. Users maintain online résumés, establish links with colleagues and business acquaintances and then expand their networks to the contacts of their contacts. The service also helps them search for experts who can help them solve daily business problems.

The four-year-old site is decidedly antisocial: only last fall, after what executives describe as a year of intense debate, did the company ask members to add photos to their profiles.

That business-only-please strategy appears to be paying off. The number of people using LinkedIn, based in Mountain View, Calif., tripled in May over the previous year, according to Nielsen Online. At 23 million members, LinkedIn remains far smaller than Facebook and MySpace, each with 115 million members, but it is growing considerably faster.

LinkedIn also has a more diversified approach to making money than its entertainment-oriented rivals, which are struggling to bring in ad dollars and keep up with inflated expectations for increased revenue.

LinkedIn will get only a quarter of its projected $100 million in revenue this year from ads. (It places ads from companies like Microsoft and Southwest Airlines on profile pages.) Other moneymakers include premium subscriptions, which let users directly contact any user on the site instead of requiring an introduction from another member.

A third source of revenue is recruitment tools that companies can use to find people who may not even be actively looking for new jobs. Companies pay to search for candidates with specific skills, and each day, they get new prospects as people who fit their criteria join LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is set to undergo a radical shift in strategy to find other sources of revenue. Instead of catering primarily to individual white-collar workers, the site will soon introduce new services aimed at companies. It is a risky move that could alienate members who prefer to use the networking site to network - without their bosses peering over their shoulders.

One new product, Company Groups, automatically gathers all the employees from a company who use LinkedIn into a single, private Web forum. Employees can pose questions to each other, and share and discuss news articles about their industry.

Soon, LinkedIn plans to add additional features, like a group calendar, and let independent developers contribute their own programs that will allow employees to collaborate on projects.

The idea is to let firms exploit their employees' social connections, institutional memories and special skills - knowledge that large, geographically dispersed companies often have a difficult time obtaining.

For example, in a test of the feature by AKQA, a digital ad agency in San Francisco, an employee based in Amsterdam recently asked her 350 colleagues on LinkedIn if the firm had done any previous work for television production companies. Executives in San Francisco, New York and London promptly responded to the query.

"This is a collected, protected space for employees to talk to each other and reference outside information," said Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn's founder and chairman.

Becoming even more corporate is something of a gamble for LinkedIn. Many companies might resist the idea of confidential corporate information circulating on LinkedIn's servers - and perhaps being exposed to former employees who are included in the group because they have not updated their LinkedIn résumés. (LinkedIn says every member of a company group can remove people whom they identify as former workers or interlopers.)

Diffusing the purpose of the site might also repel some users.

"It will be extraordinarily challenging to simultaneously serve as a corporate tool and yet promote the 'brand of me' in an emerging free-agent nation," said Keith Rabois, a former LinkedIn executive who is now vice president at Slide, a maker of applications for social networks.

Jeffrey Glass, a partner at Bain Capital, says his firm invested in LinkedIn primarily because it is now becoming popular enough to introduce these kinds of products to companies and other organizations, like universities.

"This is a powerful tool because inside the corporation, there are massive bodies of knowledge and relationships between individuals that the corporation has been unable to take advantage of until now," he said.

The new services could help LinkedIn fend off some new competition. Microsoft, long covetous of rapidly growing social-networking properties, is internally testing a service called TownSquare that allows employees of a company to follow one another's activities on the corporate network.

Executives at Facebook, meanwhile, have recently said that they see networking tools for professionals as a primary avenue of growth. The site recently added networking to the list of options that new users select when they are asked to specify what they intend to do on the site.

Mr. Hoffman was an early investor in Facebook and says he does not want to disparage the competition. But he said that most members of Facebook who are older than 30 use it for entertainment, like playing Scrabulous, a version of Scrabble - not for doing their jobs.

"Scrabulous is not work, and it does not enable you to be an effective professional," he said.

[Jul 2, 2012] Facebook faces criticism on privacy change

December 10, 2009 | BBC News

Critics say people could accidentally share too much information

Digital rights groups and bloggers have heaped criticism on Facebook's changed privacy policy.

Critics said the changes were unwelcome and "nudged" people towards sharing updates with the wider web and made them findable via search engines.

The changes were introduced on 9 December via a pop-up that asked users to update privacy settings.

Facebook said the changes help members manage updates they wanted to share, not trick them into revealing too much.

"Facebook is nudging the settings toward the 'disclose everything' position," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the US Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic). "That's not fair from the privacy perspective."

Epic said it was analysing the changes to see if they amounted to trickery.

Control reduction

In a statement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said: "These new 'privacy' changes are clearly intended to push Facebook users to publicly share even more information than before. "

It added: "Even worse, the changes will actually reduce the amount of control that users have over some of their personal data."

Facebook began testing the privacy changes during mid-2009 before introducing them site-wide. The changes let people decide who should see updates, whether all 350 million Facebook members should see them, and if they should be viewable across the web.

Barry Schnitt, a Facebook spokesman, said users could avoid revealing some information to non-friends by leaving gender and location fields blank.

He said the changes to privacy made it easier to tune the audience for an update or status change so default settings of openness should have less impact.

"Any suggestion that we're trying to trick them into something would work against any goal that we have," said Mr Schnitt.

Facebook would encourage people to be more open with their updates because, he said, that was in line with "the way the world is moving".

Assessing the changes, privacy campaigners criticised a decision to make Facebook users' gender and location viewable by everyone.

Jason Kincaid, writing on the Tech Crunch news blog, said some of the changes were made to make Facebook more palatable to search sites such as Bing and Google.

Blogger Marshall Kirkpatrick was worried that the default setting for privacy was to make everything visible to everyone.

"This is not what Facebook users signed up for," he wrote. "It's not about privacy at all, it's about increasing traffic and the visibility of activity on the site."

He also criticised the fact that the pop-up message that greets members asking them to change their privacy settings was different depending on how engaged that person was with Facebook.

He said Facebook was "maddeningly unclear" about the effect of the changes.

Many users left comments on the official Facebook blog criticising the changes. Some said they had edited their profiles and reduced their use of the social site to hide information they do not want widely spread either by accident or design.


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