Social Scavengers – Your Data, Social Media-Style (Infographic)

By DonkeyHotey

By DonkeyHotey

With PRISM, SocMint and other hair-raising on-line privacy news, it isn’t a bad idea to stop and take stock of what your favorite social networks are taking away from their relationship with you. Bear in mind that when you share online on a free service, you have to reasonably expect that the service may be getting something in return. As I always like to remind: read the fine print of the privacy policy, make informed choices about what you share and what you do online and never post anything that you wouldn’t want available to some random stranger. With that idea firmly entrenched, check out this infographic by Baynote, via LeadersWest.



Mindreading Magic? Or Something More Sinister

Great video that drives home the point that you can never be too concerned about your Internet security.


Lose The Lists & Opt Out with UnlistMy.Info


I have been on a bit of a tear lately with respect to privacy issues on the web. UnlistMyInfo is another tool to help limit the information about you being passed around. This tool helps you determine which sites store information about you and gives you the details on how to request that your information be taken down. I was very impressed with the list of sites UnlistMyInfo has in its library – from to 123people and There is also a link for you to submit a site to UnlistMyInfo for inclusion. It might take a while for you to click through the lists and submit all the unlisting requests, but it is time well spent in an age when it is far too easy for ne’er-do-wells to collect and misuse your vital statistics.

Privacy, Facebook & Google+ – Style

Facebook and Google have had plenty of privacy violation complaints leveled at them over the years and have definitely taken some consumer trust hits on that account. With the launch of Google+ and the sizeable revamp of Facebook in response, it is difficult to tell which giant social network plots the safer course for it users. Peer1 has some ideas on this point and has created this rather large infographic to tell its tale of privacy concerns. Check it out and see which socnet hits your pressure points or soothes your jangled nerves:


All You Need To Know About Facebook Subscriptions

The new feature is also going to come with a personalized Suggested Subscription list – a personalized recommendation to help people find interesting non-friends to receive public updates from. Think friend suggestions based on who users have mutual friends with – these will be suggestions for subscriptions based on connections and demographics. There are lots of new bits and pieces of subscription information being published now on the site, no doubt in an effort to increase user engagement with the feature and promote viral adoption. You also will see who has subscribed to who when you visit a person’s profile.


Facebook has been a busy bee lately, trying to drag its social network into the modern age with tailored sharing and connecting, much along the lines of the coolest Google + features. I have no problem with that – competition being a good thing and imitation being the highest form of flattery and whatnot. Rather than go through an exhaustive analysis of all of the new features, I thought I would highlight one particular feature that rolled out yesterday that I think could seriously change the entire dynamic of Facebook.

Up until now, there has been this guarded approach to connecting that requires both a friend request and an acceptance in order to open the door to all the valuable content shared on FB. If you are a content junkie, like myself, it is pretty easy to amass a fairly large number of “friends” on the service. But are they all really “friends?” What if you simply want to follow a person, a la Twitter, and see their public information without all the commitment that a formal friend engagement entails?

Facebook Subscriptions will allow just that – the ability to follow another FB user without becoming “friends” and without requiring a mutual relationship – a one-way follow model reminiscent of Twitter. When you subscribe to someone on FB, you will see only their public posts. Tailoring posts has become much easier now that Facebook allows you to set privacy with each individual post via a drop down button in the status box. When you subscribe, you will see the subscription’s public posts and when people subscribe to you, they will see yours.

When you opt into the Subscribe feature (nice FB – thanks for not turning it on by default), people will see a Subscribe button on each person’s profile or on each post in the News Feed. They can click on your Profile  to follow your public posts without first getting your approval. You can set whether or not subscribers can comment on your public posts. Subscribers can specify exactly what kind of content they want to see from you – all updates, most updates or important updates only, photos and vids, status, games, life events, etc.

This feature will definitely appeal to people with broad appeal – those who may have hit the 5,000 friend limit and have had to turn to Pages to manage masses of fans. It might also appeal to the little guy too – you get the option to share with a broader audience and, given FB’s numbers lead when it comes to social network population, this is not a bad thing for on-line publishers and content creators. Will it replace Pages entirely? No – because Pages still offers some features (analytics, multiple admins), that Profiles do not. But, if a person or brand would like to simplify their FB experience into a single presence, the new Subscription feature and the ability to merge Pages with Profiles will allow a more personal and efficient approach. Check out the comparison chart between Pages and Subscriptions below:

Subscriptions are not just for new connections – it also will appeal to anyone who wants to tailor the content they receive from their existing friends, either from their profile or on each post in the News Feed. Use the Subscribe button to limit / define exactly what and how much you want to see. If you subscribe to others, you will see a new Subscriptions entry in the left menu on your profile, from which you can adjust settings.

Behind the scenes, Facebook has implemented some nice touches via their powerful algorithms to tailor content on your News Feed and your notifications. With all the new ways to receive and consume, it is nice to hear that there is some filtering and control available to adjust the settings, so to speak, with decent tweaking on by default. You should be aware that there is no requirement that you enable a Subscription button on your Profile – if you choose not to, your FB experience will not change in any way. But if you do, then you open the door to more engagement with privacy options intact. And there is no doubt in my mind that, while FB has borrowed heavily from the Twitter model, the new features vastly improves on it – offering fine tunnig of content-in and content-out if a far more meaningful way.

I have to say that I am pretty impressed with FB’s bold move here. I had always pegged them as to proud to change that friending model that has defined the service from its start – a service built on “belonging to a club” so to speak. Now everyone can join the club. But you just don’t have to listen to everything each other has to say.

On-Line Privacy Public Service Announcement: Spokeo

Start the New Year off with a bang – check out what Spokeo knows about you. Spokeo, an online people search tool, warns up front that it’s not your grandma’s phone book. No, it certainly is not. My grandma’s phone book didn’t provide a map to my home, with a sat picture of it, as well as an estimated property value, my email addresses, age, relationship status and ages and names of my family members, hobbies, estimated income, social haunts and even more. Sure it may all reside somewhere in the public record, but a service that scours on- and off-line information, aggregating it in one easy-to-access location available to anyone seems just a wee bit on the sketchy side, even for my own open on-line sharing viewpoint.

I have known about Spokeo for a while, but some recent updates make it a bit spookier. In November, Spokeo 5.0 was released, implementing graphics, icons, and a new design intended to present information in a more visual way. Just a few days ago, Spokeo released Username search, which scans social networks, blogs, photo albums, dating sites, music networks, video sites, ecommerce stores, and other web services in real-time to help find online profiles with similar usernames.

If you really want to stalk, I mean, search someone, you can upgrade to premium ($14.95 for three months and $59 for a year) and get name, phone, email, username search, and an import feature allowing users to utilize their email address book and social network contacts to pull information. Premium membership also features a tracking system – once the account is added to a friend’s list, Spokeo will periodically check for new updates from the account, with notifications and an update counter.

Spokeo’s information is scary accurate, but not completely accurate. Thus, one might be given the mistaken impression that all of the information presented is spot on, which it most decidedly is not if my own search was any indication.

Today I found a quick procedure for pulling yourself out of the database, which you may want to do when you see what Spokeo can spit out about you to anyone with an internet connection, thanks to Chris Hardwick over at the Nerdist blog. To summarize:

1. Navigate to Spokeo
2. Search your name in the box
3. Copy the URL when you get your result
4. Look for the Privacy link in very small type at the bottom of the page. Click.
5. Complete the form by pasting the URL in the field “To remove a listing from Spokeo…”
6. Enter a dummy email (create one for this purpose with Yahoo, Gmail or one of those temp email services). You don’t want the Spokeo creeps getting a hold of you, that’s for sure.
7. Click “Remove Listing”
8. When you get the email in your dummy account, click on the link “To complete the removal process…”
9. Go into your browser preferences and search your cookies for “spokeo.” Delete them.

Then, lean back and rest comfortably until the next on-line privacy hullabaloo. Go ahead, thank me.

Got Privacy Concerns? Get Fridge

Nary a week goes by that the Web isn’t buzzing with some new violation of privacy inflicted upon users of some social hangout. Just yesterday, I was helping a friend delve deep into the Facebook privacy settings to turn off all Places sharing options and to say it was a complicated process would be an understatement. I am of several minds about these privacy concerns, and they mostly range from “you can’t trust the big guys to keep individual interests at the forefront of the user experience” and “where there’s money, there’s deception” to “the sites are free, what do you expect?” and “can’t you simply use some common sense in what you are posting?”

When all is said and done, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to haunt locales that place a greater emphasis on privacy. Like defaulting privacy settings to fully private unless and until voluntarily opened up by the user.

One such site I found this morning, via Jason Kincaid at Techcrunch, is oddly named The Fridge. With a familiar interface bearing similarity to Facebook, but offering the ability to limit your sharing to specific groups of friends, The Fridge seems a nice balance between sharing and keeping.

How does The Fridge accomplish this? Not with hidden, obfuscated, and perhaps deliberately arcane  setting controls buried several layers of button-clicks deep. Instead, The Fridge limits sharing by organizing social circles by groups. In other words, users form private groups, invite like-minded friends to join and then encourage group members to share content and view content created by others within the group. Sounds ideal for an event, a club, or a common purpose.

Form the group by supplying your email, providing a group name and sending a special private link to potential group members. And that’s it. As creator, you can disable that private link or remove members from the group. Otherwise, simply plant your group seed and watch it grow outside the scope of the wider social circle you may belong to on other sites. And even outside the scope of other groups on The Fridge site – all groups are kept completely independent of other groups.

There are member profiles, news feeds and the ability to post text or media. It is most similar to Yahoo Groups and Ning, both sites that allow you to create a version of your own social net. While it may not be for everyone, The Fridge sounds like a great option for segregating a particular networking activity within a more private and protected setting. At the very least, you could head to The Fridge for a midnight snack.

The NEW Facebook Privacy

Image from All Facebook

Public Service Announcement:  Facebook has finally responded to the loads of privacy-related backlash leveled against it over the past few weeks after rolling out its new “instant personalization” andll  athe privacy “tweaks” that came with it. If you spend time on the giant social network, it behooves you to at least read the changes, attempt to understand where your information is going and consider addressing your settings.

There is a great post over at All Facebook (link here) that breaks down the newest Facebook changes (announced yesterday). The short list is that you can now opt out of applications, hide your friends list and interests (I really didn’t NEED everyone to know how much I love Cadbury Mini Eggs), hide information from the past (about TIME!), and use a one-click privacy setting button if you would rather not go through the numerous manual settings heretofore necessary to ensure the same level of privacy across your data categories. There is now a single directory settings page. This is also great – you previously needed to go to several different locations to control who can see your information via Google or Facebook search.

Much of your information is still public by default and instant personalization (the broadcasting of your public information to participating websites) is still opt-out.

You may not be seeing these changes yet – Facebook will be rolling them out over the next few weeks. But consider hitting the jump above to read the details on the changes. It just makes good web-sense to take control of your own information and actively monitor how it is used by others.

Your Personal Window On The World of "Likes"

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

“Liking” is everywhere. On Facebook. In the news. And now, on a website near you. I wrote about installing my own “like” button on my business site, AdvantageAdvocates, last week (link here).

Do you want to see what people you know and love and trust are liking across the Web? Check out  This site collects the “likes” of friends across the web in a one-page dashboard of sorts. Quickly view what your friends think.

Before you privacy nuts go crazy, remember that the information sent by Facebook across the web is the same information that shows on your default Facebook public profile, which has was already publicly available prior to the changes. If you are uncertain of whether you want to share, then hit up your privacy settings in your Facebook profile under Account, and make sure you check the privacy settings on your Applications too.And remember as well, that “internet” and “privacy” are oxymoronic terms!

Happy surfing!

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