If you're concerned about privacy, it might not be enough to hide your profile or limit who can view your personal information, a new report suggests. That's because social networking sites are sharing your personal info with tracking sites, according to the report.
"When you sign up with a social networking site, you are assigned a unique identifier," says Craig Wills, professor of computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). "We found that when social networking sites pass information to tracking sites about your activities, they often include this unique identifier. So now a tracking site not only has a profile of your web browsing activities, it can link that profile to the personal information you post on the social networking site."
The study specifically points out Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter -- three of the most popular social networking sites on the planet -- as being guilty of leaking information. Using your unique identifier, a tracking site could then learn all kinds of things about you, including your name, address, email addy, gender, date of birth, what school you attend, where you work, and tons more.
But is it much ado about nothing? Only the tracking sites know for sure, and Wills admits that researchers have no idea what these sites do with the info, if anything at all.
Facebook late last week announced plans to roll out tighter integration between the social networking site and Twitter. More specifically, you will soon (if not already) be able to publish Facebook updates to your Twitter accounts automatically, however this will only link Facebook Pages to Twitter and not your individual profile.
"If you manage a Facebook Page, you now will be able to decide whether to share updates with their Twitter followers, and you also will be able to control what type of updates to share: status updates, links, photos, notes, events or all of them. If you have multiple Pages, you will have the option to link each of those Pages to different Twitter accounts. This new feature will soon be available at http://www.facebook.com/twitter," Facebook wrote in a blog.
According to Facebook, there are a number of celebrities and organizations on Facebook already using this feature, including Dane Cook, LIVESTRONG, The World Wildlife Fund, and the NBA, WNBA, and D-League.
It seems as though everyone uses Twitter these days, but outside of venture capital, the microblogging service isn't raking in the big bucks. So how does Twitter plan to pull in an income going forward? One way is by offering commercial accounts to businesses.
According to Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, the company is in the beginning phase of rolling out commercial accounts with premium services like detailed analytics. The next phase may involve building business-oriented application programming interfaces (APIs), giving the site a commercial layer.
"Twitter will still be free for everybody and we'll still tell them to go crazy with it," Stone said in an interview. "But we've identified a selection of things that businesses say are helping to make them more profit."
The challenge for Twitter is in separating who uses the microbrogging service for personal use and who's using it professionally, and then charge them for it. That's where the idea of integrating features that people are willing to pay for comes in.
Stone also said he wouldn't rule out the idea of acquisitions for the two-year old company, saying it's "definitely possible."
Last month, Twitter co-founder Isaac "Biz" Stone jotted down in a blog post his intention of trademarking the term "Tweet," which at the time probably seemed like a slam dunk request. Instead, the request is turning out to be no easy layup as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has preliminarily denied the patent app.
Whether or not the decision is fair, we'll leave that up to you decide, but here's the deal Three other companies -- TweetMarks, Cotweet, and Tweetphoto -- already have pending applications for trademarks that contain "tweet" in their names. This was enough to make the Patent Office gunshy in granting Twitter's request, at least for now, even though Stone expressed in his blog his company's willingness to let developers use the term.
"We have applied to trademark Tweet because it is clearly attached to Twitter from a brand perspective but we have no intention of 'going after' the wonderful applications and services that use the word in their name when associated with Twitter," Stone wrote on the same day the patent application was filed. "In fact, we encourage the use of the word Tweet. however, if we come across a confusing or damaging project, the recourse to act responsibly to protect both users and our brand is important."
Should Twitter be granted the trademark? Hit the jump and sound off!
I suppose it's not enough for a popular online service to face the reaper, come back from the brink of extinction, and turn open-source. No, there has to be some kind of controversy surrounding the whole affair--can't just fade quietly into the open-licensed light nowadays.
Such is the situation offered up by the death and resurrection of tr.im, a popular online URL shortening service whose recent entrance into the open-source community has been met with a touch of scandal. Perhaps scandal is the wrong word, though. Scathing might be better, given the tone of some of tr.im's blogging and actions as of late.
It's easy to talk about open-source as if it's some large, altruistic community that wants to do nothing but share-and-share alike. Everybody's friendly. Everybody's happy. Just a ton of developers churning out free code for everyone to use, distribute, and polish into a scintillating hunk of software that's going to revolutionize the world! Or, at the very least, stick it to Microsoft.
This is an idyllic fantasy. In the real world, businesses and developers don't always play nicely. You've already read about the back-and-forth bombing wars between the PortableApps and LiberKey developers. You can now add tr.im to the list... but who exactly are they fighting?
Click the jump to spawn onto the open-source battlefield!
Twitter has made recent moves to get rid of web promotion company uSocial by claiming that their means of advertising count as spam.
uSocial’s CEO Leon Hill claims that the accusations from Twitter are false. “The definition of spam is using electronic messaging to send unsolicited communication and as we don’t use Twitter for this, the claims are false.” He believes that the claims are because of their service, which allows users to buy followers on the popular microblogging site.
“The people at Twitter who are sending these claims are just flailing around trying to look for any excuse they can, though it’s going to take much more than this if they want us to pack up shop,” stated Hill. “We’re not going away that easily.”
So what do you think? Are the folks at uSocial trying to make a buck in a spammy way, or should the folks at Twitter back off? Make your voice heard in the comments.
In a deal The Wall Street Journal estimates to be worth $50 million, Facebook is acquiring FriendFeed, a real-time feed aggregator that consolidates the updates from social media and social networking websites.
"Since I first tried FriendFeed, I've admired their team for creating such a simple and elegant service for people to share information," said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. "As this shows, our culture continues to make Facebook a place where the best engineers come to build things quickly that lots of people will use."
While Facebook and FriendFeed both remain mum on financial terms of the deal, the real value may lie in FriendFeed's engineering team. FriendFeed's four founders helped to create Google's Gmail and Google Maps services, and will hold senior roles on Facebook's engineering and product teams. All 12 of FriendFeed's employees will also retain their position, at least while long-term plans for the product are being hashed out.
In related news, Facebook also announced a new version of its search, which now allows members to search the last 30 days of the news feed for status updates, photos, links, videos, and notes being shared by friends.
"Facebook is competing with Twitter to be the center of real-time activity and updates for people online," said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence.
Effective immediately, the U.S. Marines have banned Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and all other social media sites from their networks.
According to an official order issued to the Marines, “These internet sites in general are a proven haven for malicious actors and content and are particularly high risk due to information exposure, user generated content and targeting by adversaries. The very nature of SNS [social network sites] creates a larger attack and exploitation window, exposes unnecessary information to adversaries and provides an easy conduit for information leakage that puts OPSEC [operational security], COMSEC [communications security], [and] personnel… at an elevated risk of compromise.”
The ban is currently slated to last a year, and was drawn up by U.S. Strategic Command due to network security concerns. But, if a Marine is able to provide a “mission critical need,” the sites could be temporarily unblocked. But, other than that, there will be no tweeting from the frontlines.
In between the random thoughts and pictures of people’s cats on Twitter, there are some gems to be found. Among those gems are celebrity feuds, our very own Will Smith giving things away, and now cheap airfare.
JetBlue and United Airlines have begun offering “Cheeps” and “twares,” respectively, in an effort to load off empty seats for low prices. JetBlue’s first Cheep was a $9 one-way flight from JFK to Nantucket, and since then they’ve have repeated success. “By promoting the Cheeps through Twitter, we give the already spontaneous audience of Twitter users a chance to grab great last-minute fares,” stated Morgan Johnston, a JetBlue spokesman.
Apparently these tickets have become quite popular, too. According to Robin Urbanski, a United spokeswoman, “Twares are all about surprising our customers with low fares for a very, very limited time. They sell extremely fast because the prices are unbeatable.”
If you’re interested in getting in on the fun, be sure to check out JetBlue’s Cheep Twitter account here, and United’s account here.
Last month, a hacker calling himself Hacker Croll infiltrated an administrator's email account who works for Twitter, gaining access to the employee's Google Apps account, where Twitter shares spreadsheets and documents outlining business ideas and various financial details, said Biz Stone, a Twitter co-founder.
After doing so, the hacker sent all sorts of confidential documents to a pair of news blogs: TechCrunch and Korben. While the breach and subsequent sharing of information might have been embarrassing for Twitter, analysts say the attack highlights the bigger problem of people using the same password for ever site they visit.
According to security firm Sophos, 40 percent of Internet users use the same password for every website. And with so many personal details floating around social networking sites, it makes it that much easier for hackers to breach someone's account.
"A lot of the Twitter users are much living their lives in public," said Chris King, director of product marketing at Palo Alto Networks, which creates firewalls. "If you broadcast all your details about what your dog's name is and what hour hometown is, it's not that hard to figure out a password."
This won't come as a surprise to power users, but to avoid being hacked, use strong passwords that combine letters and numbers, change your passwords often, and don't use the same password for every site you visit.