Using the guise of shielding more of your personal information, and giving you more control over the information you enter into Facebook, it turns out that Facebook is actually making it harder, if not impossible, to shield your personal information, and is making more of that information available to others--whether you like it or not.
The bad, the EFF says, are the abysmal privacy settings recommended by Facebook. While prior default settings limited access to your networks and friends, the new default settings make your information available to everyone, everywhere. Lesson here, says the EFF, don’t accept Facebook’s privacy recommendations.
Still, it doesn’t much matter. EFF gets down to the ugly: a lot of personal information you could once shield is now open to the public, regardless of what you want. And not just your information, but the information of all your friends as well. Facebook says this information was never really private, or that it could be obtained by other means, or that users didn’t really care. EFF doesn’t quite buy Facebook’s explanations. And it worries, given the nature of data mining, the information about you available to anyone and everyone (including third-party app developers--whether you use the app or not), poses risks that you won't realize until it's too late.
For Facebook users it should be caveat utilitor. Facebook’s need to trade on your personal information appears to have trumped your concerns for privacy, so take care.
Well, there you have it--someone's gone and made a desktop client for interacting with Facebook. It sounds a little lame at first glance. Facebook, after all, works quite well across a number of desktop and portable devices. Since you need an internet connection to make any kind of use of the service, be it in a separate client or through the usual Web-based format, what's stopping one from simply eschewing any kind of downloaded application and going straight to Facebook-dot-com itself?
Find out the answer to this, and get a preview of the desktop Facebook application, after the jump!
The rationale behind Coke’s promotion is to emphasize just how much Coke Zero tastes like Coca-Cola Classic--there doubles, get it? What better way to underscore this by letting you find your facial double. Unless, of course, you find the idea of someone else having your face more creepy than fun.
Is big brother watching your every move on Facebook? That's something the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) tried to find out by asking several federal agencies for their policy on the use of social media during investigations. But after being given the cold shoulder, the EFF, along with UC Berkeley's Samuelson Center, have taken the matter to court where they hope the half-dozen federal agencies pinged will be forced to hand over documents relating to social networking as it pertains to investigative procedures.
The short suit gets right to the point and cites the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which normally requires that a response be given within 20 days. But the plaintiffs allege that only the IRS responded within that time frame, and that was a request for a 10-day extension.
So why the sudden interest in the first place? The suit points out various news reports from credible sources (The New York Times, for example) indicating that federal authorities have used social networking sites to pursue investigations. And this includes an incident where investigators staked out Facebook and nabbed a fugitive as soon as he set up an account.
Facebook was born upon the idea of people networking. Initial Facebook networks were obvious ones: your school, your community, your country. A bit crude, but easily established and, initially, allowing a modicum of privacy. But, as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg notes in an open letter to Facebook users, networks have gotten way out of hand. The solution, according to Zuckerberg--get rid of them.
Regional networks are Zuckerberg’s target, and legitimately so. Regional networks have grown to include millions of members. So much for the intimacy initially offered by Facebook. Instead of automatically sharing with a couple hundred people in a network, you share with a couple million.
Zuckerberg says that Facebook will replace networks with greater individual control over who sees your Facebook content. These new privacy controls will allow greater ability to define who family and friends are. They’ll also allow users to control access to bits-and-pieces of their Facebook entries. This will let Facebook users revive the intimacy of their connections, making the social networks they create more meaningful to them.
As the new privacy settings are implemented, Zuckerberg says, users will be notified and asked to review their privacy settings. The changes are scheduled to take place over the next few weeks.
Yahoo is taking this whole Facebook thing pretty seriously. Earlier this year, the search company started allowing users to preview messages from their Facebook friends right on their Yahoo homepage, and going forward, the company plans to tie the two services even more closely together.
Sometime in the first half of 2010, Yahoo will roll out is support of the Facebook Connect service, which is a universal ID that lets people automatically log into participating sites using their Facebook account. The service also keeps Facebook friends in the loop about activities taking place on third-party sites. As it applies to Yahoo, the company announced it will let users of its email, photo sharing, and other online products link their content and goings-on right into Facebook.
This tighter integration, Yahoo says, will drive visitors back to Yahoo. And that's something that's important as the company looks for ways to grow and expand under CEO Carol Bartz, who took the position back in January of this year.
Facebook is the answer to a question no one asked: “How can I waste more of my time?” Compared to social network gaming, however, Facebook itself is as useful an invention as the cell phone.
Actually, I do like Facebook. I’ve used it to reconnect with dozens of people I used to know. Two of them are even people I like. A year after I first joined Facebook for the sole purpose of sharing pictures of a new puppy, I find myself updating my status, making comments, and listing things like the “Five TV Characters I Wish Were Real So We Could Hang.” (Dr. McCoy, Emma Peel, Hurley Reyes, Simon Templar, and Gomez Addams: another answer to a question no one ever asked sober or outside of a college dorm.)
I used Facebook for a year before I caved in and tried any social gaming. It held no appeal at all. I ignored the messages from friends asking me to join their Mafia, become part of their vampire clan, move in next door to their rutabaga farm, or contribute to efforts to elect Ron Paul president. (Oh, you mean they were serious about the Ron Paul thing?)
Just recently an American man accused of robbery was exonerated after a Facebook status update posted at about the same time as the robbery became his alibi. But Nathalie Blanchard, a 29-year-old Canadian woman, witnessed a different side, a much darker side, of using Facebook. Her rather jaunty Facebook alter ego has cost her dearly.
The fun she was having, or trying to have, was strictly therapeutic - just what the doctor ordered, says Blanchard. She is also miffed at Manulife's meddlesome ways: the insurance company accessed her photos despite the fact that she has chosen to limit her profile to only friends. "My client was diagnosed with a major depression. And there were pictures of her on Facebook, in a party or having a good time. It could be that she was just trying to escape," Blanchard's lawyer Tom Lavin told CBC News.
The insurance company admits using social networking sites to keep a tab on clients. But it claims that it does not terminate claims "solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook."
YouTube's reign as the No. 1 online video site doesn't appear to be in jeopardy, but among the also-rans, Facebook now ranks as the third most popular portal for viewing video on the Internet, according to Nielsen's VideoCensus report.
YouTube leads the way with 6.6 billion streams and just shy of 106 million unique visitors in October, leaving the real battle to be fought for second place. As it stands, the No. 2 spot belongs to Hulu, which served up 632.6 million streams and recorded 13.4 million unique visitors. Facebook trailed not far behind with 217.7 million streams, but had more unique visitors than Hulu with 31.6 million hits.
Not to underestimate the significance, Nielsen noted that the amount of time Web users spend hanging out at social networking sites watching videos increased 98 percent year over year. And viewing of video streams in general jumped by 26 percent, Nielseon said.
Ten years ago, the phrase "Where's my pancakes" wouldn't be nearly enough to get a robbery suspect off the hook. Even 6 years ago it wouldn't have worked. But that's only because Facebook was no where to be see. What are we talking about?
Rodney Bradford, a 19-year-old resident of the Farragut Houses, was arrested on October 18th for a robbery that took place the day before. His alibi? A status update on Facebook on October 17, at 11:49AM, from a computer in his father's apartment in Harlem, asking about his pancakes.
"This is the first case that I'm aware of in which a Facebook update has been used as alibi evidence," said John Browning, a lawyer and member of the Dallas Bar Association who studies social networking and the law. "We are going to see more of that because of how prevalent social networking has become."
The charges against Bradford where dropped when Facebook verified that the update, which occurred during the time of the robbery, originated from his dad's PC. Of course, this begs the question of how anyone can be sure that it was Bradford who typed the message, and not someone else.
"This implies a level of criminal genius that you would not expect from a young boy like this; he is not Dr. Evil," said defense lawyer Robert Reuland, adding that the Facebook entry was just "icing on the cake" since Bradford had other alibis.
But what about in other cases? With Facebook for the first time being used as an alibi, we wouldn't be surprised to see this type of defense being employed more often, including by those who really are guilty.
Where do you see this headed? Hit the jump and sound off!