(CNN) — Your Facebook friends aren’t the only ones reading those wall posts.
Many of Facebook’s 600 million members make intimate “friend” connections with corporations without knowing the extent of those relationships.
Facebook users forge these ties when they install a Facebook application from a company, click a “Like” button on a company page or log into many third-party websites by using their Facebook accounts. In many cases, these actions also cause unknowing users to fork over their names, lists of friends, e-mail and home addresses, phone numbers and other personal info.
People who sign up to send greeting cards on Jibjab by using the Facebook Connect button, for example, give that site’s owner access to information they’ve posted on their Facebook profiles. Ditto for apps, those little utilities and games that show up on or interface with the social network. Facebook says users install 20 million apps on the website per day.
Instead of wading through the swamps of app-connection and privacy settings pages buried within Facebook’s menus, some third-party developers have designed tools to help people manage the information they’re sharing, often unknowingly, with strangers and corporations.
Social Monitor, a service that launched Thursday, is a Web browser extension that looks at apps attached to the user’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.
Social Monitor’s dashboard shows an indicator next to each app, which looks like those scary Homeland Security threat level signs at airports. The colors signify how much info the app can access from a social-network profile. Next to that color rating, users see an evaluation of the Facebook app developer’s reputation in terms of data privacy.
The Social Monitor tool was developed by Unsubscribe.com, which provides a popular service for opting out of unwanted mass e-mails.
While investigating the market, Unsubscribe.com researchers discovered some unsettling trends with Facebook usage.
Users connect their Facebook accounts with a new service, and therefore granted the keys to their personal info, every three days on average, according to Social Monitor’s beta testing research. Most people don’t bother to turn off that access to unused apps or are unaware of the option, according to the Unsubscribe.com study. The company did not site the number of subjects who participated in the research.
“Keeping your Facebook authorization hygienic is something that’s going to be very important,” said Unsubscribe.com CEO James Siminoff. “It’s becoming harder to disconnect from this stuff.”
To inform Social Monitor’s developer-reputation rating, Unsubscribe.com researched or attempted to contact thousands of people behind popular Facebook apps. Many, even ones who had collected tens of millions of people’s info, could not be reached, Siminoff said.
Some developers say they make games and other apps for the sole business purpose of collecting personal info and selling access to their databases. Facebook in November suspended its relationships with developers who were caught brokering data.
“Even in the top 10, they’re getting huge amounts of information from their customers, and you can’t find out who these developers are, where they are,” Siminoff said, referring to the most popular Facebook apps. “This seems like a dangerous thing.”
Developers of Twitter apps can access people’s private messages. (So Congressmen looking to commit a digital indiscretion may want to think twice about doing so through UberSocial.) Next week, Twitter will ask users to give special permission to developers that want access to those correspondences.
Other apps provide shields against even less tangible social-network data snoops.
Disconnect, which has incorporated since CNN reported on the project’s launch last year, offers a Web browser extension that blocks Facebook, Twitter and Google from collecting browsing history.
Facebook’s “Like” button and the social sharing buttons sprinkled throughout the Web call back to the social-network companies every time it recognizes a visitor. Each company that uses these features says it deletes the info after a reasonable period of time.
The Like button appears on one-third of the top 1,000 websites and Twitter’s share feature on one-fifth of those most-trafficked sites, according to data compiled by Disconnect.
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Determined not to let competitors like Facebook fully co-opt its main business–”checking in”–Foursquare Thursday announced a partnership with credit card company American Express. The deal would give exclusive discounts to cardholders at select Foursquare venues.
In March, American Express tested a similar feature with Foursquare at the SxSW conference in Austin, Texas. When cardholders spent at least $5 at a local Austin merchant, the company credited $5 back to their accounts. The response to the offer was said to be “overwhelmingly positive.”
It was also a boon for those retailers: Amex told the New York Times on average cardholders were spending some 20 percent more compared to non-cardholders. Thus, the offers seem to give consumers more incentive to spend.
How It Works
Users need to link together their Foursquare and credit card accounts. When checking in to a participating location, a ‘load-to-card’option will appear. If you click that and then pay with the linked American Express card, a discount will appear on your monthly bill.
“The savings are automatically credited to your account within a few days,” says Tristan Walker, Foursquare’s director of business development.
Two retailers already participate: HM offers $10 back when you spend $75, and Sports Authority offers $20 back when you spend $50. At least four New York City restaurants also offer specials: Blue Smoke, Union Square Cafe, Untitled, and The Modern.
Foursquare said that it would announce other deals as the company signs up new partners.
Certainly, Foursquare faces an extraordinary amount of pressure as others move in on what was its signature feature. Striking deals like this one with American Express though broaden its appeal, which obviously is crucial if Foursquare wants to stay relevant.
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Facebook announced Thursday that Netflix chairman and CEO Reed Hastings has joined the company’s board of directors.
“Reed is an entrepreneur and technologist who has led Netflix to transform the way people watch movies and TV,” Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, said in a statement. “He has built a culture of continuous rapid innovation, something we share and work hard to build every day.”
Hastings said Facebook has propelled a “fundamental change in how people connect with each other and share all kinds of content,” and said he will work with Zuckerberg and the board “to help Facebook take advantage of all the opportunities ahead.”
Hastings founded Netflix in 1997, and it now has more than 23 million members. He is also on the Microsoft board, where he serves as lead independent director.
Other Facebook board members include Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz, Jim Breyer of Accel Partners, Donald E. Graham, chairman and CEO of The Washington Post Company, and Peter Thiel of Clarium Capital and Founders Fund.
The news comes as more and more Netflix subscribers ditch their TV service for the company’s Watch Instantly streaming service, according to a recent report. The number of people inclined to drop a pay TV service for Netflix streaming increased from 16 percent in 2010 to 32 percent in 2011, according to the Diffusion Group.
At a recent cable industry conference, however, cable executives acknowledged Netflix’s growth, but said they were not witnessing a huge growth in instances of cord cutting. Right now, the “instances of people disconnecting their big video package [for services like Netflix] is barely measurable,” said Glenn Britt, chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable.
Nonetheless, streaming activity on Netflix is on the rise and all that watching eats up bandwidth. A May report from Sandvine found that Netflix is the largest source of Internet traffic in North America. It is the “undisputed bandwidth king,” the company found.
Back in March, Netflix said it would switch to lower-quality video streaming for its customers in Canada in order to preserve bandwidth. “We made these changes because many Canadian Internet service providers unfortunately enforce monthly caps on the total amount of data consumed,” Netflix said at the time.
Earlier this week, Connected Planet noticed that the option to manage video quality had been rolled out to U.S. users, as well.
On my account, there is a “Manage Video Quality” link under “Your Account Help,” which gives you three options.
“We know that some of you have Internet data caps and we want to make it easier for you to manage how much data you use,” according to a note on the page. “We offer 3 video quality settings to help you manage your data usage. No matter what level you choose, your Netflix membership price will remain the same.”
That includes “good” quality, which consumes up to 0.3GB per hour, “better” quality (up to 0.7GB per hour), and “best” quality (up to 1GB per hour, 2.3GB for HD).
A Netflix spokesman said people seeing this option, however, are “probably part of a test cell because we haven’t implemented this across the U.S. as we did in Canada.”
For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.
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Article source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2387507,00.asp
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Article source: http://mashable.com/2011/06/23/whitey-bulger-neighbors/
A report from the Financial Times says that Twitter may be considering including “promoted tweets,” or ads, in user’s timelines.
Currently, promoted tweets are sent to the top of a user’s stream in searches. Promoted trends — often promoting products — also appear at the top of the site’s list of trending topics.
According to the report, unnamed people “familiar with the situation” said that these tweets will now appear in user’s main timelines and may also keep older, promoted messages at the top of brands that users follow.
Twitter has faced backlash in the past over its attempts to monetize its service. Most recently, the company put the Quick Bar in its mobile iOS application to show off trending topics, including paid, promoted trends. It was quickly removed from the app after users complained that it was obtrusive.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
Chris Brown, no stranger to controversy, finds himself amid another one today.
Yesterday, TMZ caught Brown calling a TMZ cameraman “gay” after they caught him avoiding a parking ticket in Los Angeles. Brown obviously thought that TMZ had tattled on him for parking illegally and asked if TMZ called them and then tried to film the confrontation. He then said “Y’all n**gas is gay.”
Poor grammar aside, this is just another instance of Chris Brown getting into trouble over something he said. Last year, he got in a Twitter feud in which he called someone a “homo” and “dick in da booty lil boy.” And we won’t even get into the whole Rhianna thing…
Last night, Brown issued this tweet about the incident –
TMZ jumped on him for this tweet, saying that he “lied” through his teeth.” TMZ added that he “never apologizes, but instead writes a half-assed, dismissive explanation.”
He’s been hearing it from the Twitter community today. The hashtag #chrisbrownneedsto has been trending the whole day. Some responses have been “…stop using homophopic slurs, the apologizing, then doing it again.” Others have been a little more cutting, such as #chrisbrownneedsto release an album entitled Greatest Hits, I’m guessing Rhianna will be on the album cover.”
And in the last hour, he has rallied off a series of tweets where he calls people who latch onto every word he says “thirsty.” Check out his string of tweets:
This will make things a whole lot easier. If you don’t like/support me then don’t listen to my music. Thx love you Teambreezy!
Latching on to my every word and criticizing makes you look thirsty. I can’t even piss without somebody complaining. Imagine how I feel.
A person should not have to apologize every second for living life!
The best noise is silence!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending Chris Brown here, but is TMZ a little too eager to catch him up in something? In their article they call what he said a “nasty slur.” Is simply saying the word “gay” a nasty slur? Believe me, I think homophobic statements are deplorable, but does saying “gay” deserve this kind of backlash? They didn’t even mention the fact the he called them “n**gas.”
But in the case of Chris Brown, if you do a couple of things like beat your girlfriend, smash things with chairs, and unleash homophobic rants, it’s pretty hard to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Is your social network secure? Do you even know where the account security and privacy settings are, or what the default settings are? A recent survey conducted by ESET illustrates the relative insecurity of social networks–which is alarming given the volume and sensitivity of information that is shared on them.
Social networks are fertile ground for malware attacks and scams. The very concept of the social network assumes some degree of trust and sharing, and attackers can prey on that inherent trust. You know enough to ignore that email from the Nigerian prince (please, tell me you know enough to ignore that email!), but would you have enough skepticism or common sense not to click on a link sent from your own mother?
Take the time to use the privacy controls Facebook has provided.Privacy is subjective to some extent. Some people are comfortable sharing things that others find too sensitive or invasive. The thing is, social networks like Facebook provide you with the tools you need to customize the security and privacy to your liking…assuming you ever take the time to do so.
The ESET survey found that 20 percent of the respondents have never changed their privacy settings, and another 19 percent haven’t done so in the past year. If you follow the tech headlines, you know that privacy and security issues come up frequently, and social networks implement new security controls, and changes to privacy policies. Not checking or updating privacy settings in the past year is essentially the same thing as never changing them.
Here are some interesting findings from the survey:
• 69 percent of account owners are concerned about security
• 67 percent expressed concern about privacy
• 37 percent are concerned about someone creating a fake account in their name
• 95 percent of social networking account owners accept friend/follower/connection request always or sometimes
• 71 percent of social networking account owners are concerned that their personal information entered on social networking sites may be sold or shared without their knowledge for profit.
As with many areas of technology and security, though, there seems to be some disconnect between perception and action. Users are concerned about security, but automatically accept invitations and friend requests without thinking about it. Users are worried about privacy, but nearly half haven’t even looked at the privacy controls available to them in the past year.
You have the power. Go to your Facebook profile, click the Account link at the upper-right, and select Privacy Settings. Facebook clearly displays the current privacy settings to show you which information is shared with Friends Only, Friends of Friends, Everyone, or Other–the other being a customized setting. For example, you can choose to share with Friends, but exclude specific friends from access, or you can share information only with specified accounts rather than all friends.
You can choose whether or not to let others tag you in photos, or who can see photos that you’re tagged in. You can determine whether or not your friends are allowed to post things directly to your wall. You can decide whether or not your friends can check you in on Facebook Places. All of the controls are there for you. You just have to spend the 15 minutes to make conscious decisions about how to secure your information and protect your privacy.
As I mentioned above, though, things change. Setting your account security and privacy settings is not a set-it-and-forget-it sort of thing. You should revisit the privacy controls every few months, see if anything has changed or been added, and confirm your choices once again.
But thanks to the likes of Facebook and Google news, and the human nature that loves to pour over gossippy celebrity death, especially those involving raucous acts like drunk driving in a sports car at high speeds and crashing into a fiery, deadly mess, bad news travels especailly fast, becoming important food for social media fodder. That’s one reason Facebook, the privately held social media company, is about to pass Yahoo in advertising revenue, and it’s a reason Google has become one of the most profitable and productive companies in the new economy. The viral spread happens fast when the news hits, as social media and Internet tools allow people to digest, distribute and contribute to information at what previously would have been warp-speed media levels.
Consider only that multiple Facebook pages sprouted immediately this week when Dunn’s death occurred, many gaining more than 100,000 followers by the end of the day. On Google and on other leading news sites, including many traditional media outlets, stories involving the grisly facts surrounding Dunn’s death soared to the most popular stories read – thanks in large part to the millions of people around the world who posted the stories on social media, Facebook in particular.
For those companies, such action and reactions means millions of dollars in advertising revenue and for the “Jackass” brand and Dunn’s legend, it means both will live on bigger than they ever were before since so many more people in the world now seem to care that a man who prided himself as being a “jackass” apparently got very drunk, drove at a very high speed, and crashed and burned.
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twins whose story was prominently told alongside Mark Zuckerberg’s in The Social Network, have decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court concerning their $65 million cash-and-stock settlement with Facebook and Zuckerberg.
The move likely means the “Winklevi” are finally done with their long-running dispute with the world’s largest social network. Zuckerberg and the twins reached a settlement in 2008 over whether Zuckerberg stole their idea for what eventually was turned into Facebook. Later, the twins said Facebook hid information from them and therefore the settlement was fraudulent.
Facebook is reportedly aiming for an IPO in early 2012 and could be worth up to a $100 billion valuation. In January, Goldman Sachs valued Facebook at $50 billion. With all those types of numbers circulating, the Winklevoss twins had good reason to seek more than $65 million from their settlement. However, when the twins filed to not appeal to the Supreme Court, they did not give a reason.
The 6-foot 5-inch twins, who are also known for competing in the men’s pair rowing event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, claim that Zuckerberg stole their idea for a campus-only social network after working for them on the site HarvardConnection, which later became ConnectU. Zuckerberg created Facebook in 2004 in his Harvard University dorm room.
The story of Zuckerberg, the Winklevoss twins, and the creation of Facebook was told in the Academy-Award-winning film The Social Network. The movie won Oscars in February 2011 for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Film Editing.
(“Rakuten Makes Good On Twitter Threat To Break Up With Business Lobby,” at 1223 GMT, misstated the year in the 10th paragraph. The correct version follows:)
TOKYO (Dow Jones)–Feeling slighted by Japan’s business elite, Rakuten Inc. (4755.OK) formally signaled it is breaking up with the country’s most powerful business lobby, weeks after the company’s chief executive announced via Twitter his intention to do so.
Using snail-mail, the operator of Japan’s biggest online shopping mall said it sent a letter of resignation to the Keidanren Thursday. The business lobby said …
Article source: http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110623-708465.html