Archive for the ‘Social Networks’ Category

Posting Pics of Cash on Facebook: Not a Good Idea!

June 1, 2012 Leave a comment

This is just a symbol photo, not actually the girl (it is Tamara Ecclestone), (c) Petra Ecclestone

This story reminds us that we should think before we post something on Facebook. An Australian 17 year old posted a picture of a pile of cash to Facebook after helping her grandmother to count her money. Just hours afterwards, two robbers with masks, a knife and a club turned up at the house of the girl. Luckily, neither the girl nor the cash was there anymore and nobody got hurt. They just took a “small amount of cash” and left. This incident caused the local police to issue a warning about being cautious when posting something to social media.

The only real possibility how this could have happened is that this girl has some really shady people in her friends list. Not only is it your responsibility to choose what to post online but also whom you be-friend. This shows that not only criminals can be caught by the fotos they post online but criminals can get a good idea of whom to rob next.

They’ve Your Data, Whether You’re on Facebook or Not!

May 30, 2012 Leave a comment

(c) Facebook

Yes, there are still some people out there who refuse to join Facebook. And they refuse for good reasons, such as their personal privacy. However, it seems like Facebook has grown so big already, that staying off of it won’t protect your privacy as much as you think. According to a recent publication at the University of Heidelberg / Germany, it is possible to determine with an accuracy of at least 85% (!) if two people know each other, even if both are not on Facebook! Using machine learning methods, which analyze common friends of members as well as email contacts, scientists could deduct common friends of non-members and guess if two non-members know each other. And this does not even factor in such questionable practices as uploading cellphone contacts to social networks!

This is a quite significant finding, which shows that social networks like Facebook have become so ubiquitous that they have significant information about us, even if we never agreed to that. In many cases we cannot decide anymore what happens with our data, our “friends” or social networks decide for us!

Twitter Fights for Occupy Protester: Data Belongs to User!

May 16, 2012 1 comment

Last October an Occupy Wall Street protester was arrested for “disorderly conduct” in New York City. As part of his prosecution Twitter received a court order, requiring it to hand over 3 months of Twitter data to the court. The prosecutors obviously hoped that he sent some infringing direct messages since usual Twitter messages are public anyway. It wouldn’t have surprised anyone if Twitter would have handed over the data without complaining. However, recently the company refused! And not only that, the amazing part is that they did this because they state that the data belongs to their users! Thus, the court has to ask the user to hand over the data (who is not very willing either). This is an astounding development, given that generally Internet companies make their privacy policies stricter so they can do whatever they want with their users data.

These are the cases when companies can show how serious they take their privacy policy and, essentially, on which side they are on.

The Outrageous Practice of Asking Employees for Facebook Passwords

March 24, 2012 1 comment

Facebook recently publicly threatened employers who ask (potential) employees for their Facebook password to perform a “background check”. Facebook stresses that legal action against these employers is possible. And rightly so.

This increasing practice is simply outrageous. Private social media accounts should be off limits for anyone. Do employees get the password to their employers accounting software? No.

Some things just should be kept private. And access to a social media account should be among them.

The Obama Data Election

February 21, 2012 1 comment

Just a recommendation about an excellent Guardian article about the Obama data election. It describes how his 2008 social network campaign was nothing compared to 2012.

(c) Blake Coughenour

Back then, only 40 million US citizens were in Facebook, now this number has grown to 160 million. And this Facebook information is the basis for a vast, unified campaign database, allowing the campaign to target each voter individually. They already gathered information on millions of supporters during the last campaign and are expanding this database now by asking supporters on the web and all Obama-related platforms to register using Facebook Connect. This way, they get all public information, such as names, birth dates and interestes.

It looks like Obama will raise up to one billion (this is a first!) USD through online donations (up from 500 million USD in 2008); and over 98% of these donations are under $250. This is a very good example how power (and money!) through data collection using social networks can be leveraged. Of course, each person agreed to this by logging in using Facebook Connect.

Guardian: Obama, Facebook and the power of friendship: the 2012 data election

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