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FB unveils new privacy controls

As promised, Facebook just rolled out the new privacy controls that it's been promising in response to the uproar over changes in its privacy settings.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who has come under a lot of personal fire for the privacy issues, wrote the blog posting explaining what they're doing. In the post, Zuckerberg wrote the new privacy controls focus on three things: "a single control for your content, more powerful controls for your basic information and an easy control to turn off all applications."

They've also posted a new privacy guide for how it all works.

I'll start playing around with everything, but in the meantime, what are you thinking about the changes? To get started, here's a view of the new privacy guide:


Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 06:47 PM on May 26, 2010 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Social Media, Oil and BP

As if BP didn't already have enough, among other things, enough of a public relations debacle to deal with regarding the oil spill, it has yet another issue: a fake BP account that I noticed this morning after Mallory Colliflower tweeted about it. The kicker: it has almost three times as many followers as the official BP account. Ouch.

Bp The tweets are obviously sarcastic, and I noticed today they changed their logo from the official BP one to one that makes it clear they're not exactly official BP public relations.

The account had, when I last checked, more than 12,000 followers. The official BP account, BP_America, has 4,500.

It began on May 19 with this tweet: "We regretfully admit that something has happened off of the Gulf Coast. More to come." While I can't understand why anyone who reads more than two tweets thinks it's an official account, it seems that many people do, according to one Wall Street Journal blog post.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 06:29 PM on May 24, 2010 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

FB responds to privacy issues

Everyone should be well aware by now of the issues people are having with Facebook's privacy.

Facebook_Badge_02_24_2009 Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is addressing the issues directly with an editorial in the Washington Post, where he writes, that despite its evolution from a "dorm-room project" to a site used by millions of people, that Facebook still is based on these five principles:

  • You have control over how your information is shared.                                                                                                                                      We do not share your personal information with people or services you don't want
  • We do not give advertisers access to your personal information.
  • We do not and never will sell any of your information to anyone.
  • We will always keep Facebook a free service for everyone.
He adds that additional privacy contols that are easy to use will be available in the "coming weeks".

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 03:00 PM on May 24, 2010 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Miami-Dade Courts joins Twitter

11th_Circuit_Seal_-_No_Chief_Judge_-_High_RES_ART_PROOF_Black Order in the Twitterverse! The Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida joined Twitter today under the account @MiamiDadeCourts.

The Circuit is doing this to share links and press releases regarding the courts, according to it's first tweet.

But I wonder how many folks will try to communicate with the account or if it will answer questions over time like a business account. (Dear @MiamiDadeCourts, I can't make it to jury duty tomorrow...)

There are actually a few other courts that joined Twitter, including Clark County Courts, Illinois Supreme Court, Tennessee Courts, and New Jersey Courts.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 04:02 PM on May 18, 2010 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Are we 'dumb' for trusting Facebook?

Business Insider is reporting that when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was 19 and started the site at Harvard, he sent the following IM convo to a friend:

Zuck Zuckerberg: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuckerberg: Just ask.

Zuckerberg: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?

Zuckerberg: People just submitted it.

Zuckerberg: I don't know why.

Zuckerberg: They "trust me"

Zuckerberg: Dumb fucks.

If we assume this information is true, should we care? On one hand, he was 19 when he wrote it and probably just saying it in jest. But it sure doesn't help recent feelings swelling up about Facebook's privacy changes.

Have the changes in Facebook's tools and settings making you rethink how you use Facebook? Or is it not that big of a deal for you?

Posted by Bridget Carey at 03:40 PM on May 14, 2010 in Facebook , Privacy settings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook protests growing

We've already blogged a bit about the increasing amount of people who are getting sick of Facebook's privacy issues and canceling their accounts. Anecdotally, through Twitter and personal requests, I'm seeing a lot of AntiFacebook people at least publicly contemplating the step.

Now, there's a formal movement, started by Alana Joy. On June 6, they're asking people to stay off Facebook as a protest of the privacy changes. There's a Twitter account for it, (so far, about 400 followers) and even, yes, a Facebook group.

PR and social media consultant Sarah Evans has a detailed blog post with a pithy title (telling Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that he can go "Zuck" it) about why she and others have joined this movement. It also has some quick links to other stories done by PCWorld and the like about the changes.

Are you thinking of dumping Facebook, or joining the protest? Let us know!

Updated: as of 1 p.m.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 12:41 PM on May 12, 2010 in Facebook , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Sarah K. Noonan: The fake Facebook 'friend' that duped hundreds

Noonan_pic Meet Sarah K. Noonan: She's attractive. She's 27. She lives in Miami and is in a complicated relationship. She's a Democrat with more than 480 friends on Facebook.

And she doesn't exist.

Sarah K. Noonan was a fake account on Facebook that duped 48 friends in my network who added her as a friend. Dozens of her "friends" have told me they added her because they assumed they met the smokey-eyed, dark-haired girl from somewhere before. And they trusted her because they had friends in common with the phony account.

Her profile was created in February as a marketing experiment by the Canadian advertising agency RPCGROUP, and had been friending an average of 20 people a day for the past few weeks. It was removed
from Facebook around 2 p.m. Monday after I interviewed the agency's chief executive, Rod Ponce, about the account.

Ponce said a group of RPCGROUP interns created the Noonan account to explore what makes a trendsetter and how users react to different types of posts. He stressed it was not used in a commercial
way to promote anything and has apologized for any confusion this may have caused.

"We don't want to offend anybody," Ponce said. "It's really to see how people socialized."

In fact, it was so easy for Noonan to get friends, Ponce said it freaked out one of his interns who unfriended anyone he didn't know on his profile. Between 30 to 40 percent of the people Noonan friended accepted the request.

"You accept people and sometimes you don't really know why you're accepting people,'' Ponce said.

Ponce hopes this helps shed light on the value of paying for advertising on Facebook.

"At the end of the day, is it really an effective tool for our clients or is it just a lot of smoke and mirrors?'' Ponce said. "It's about opening up a major can of worms with Facebook and saying, 'How many of
your people are real?' Is it really fair to those that pay for cost-per-impression?''

Ponce sent me this via e-mail Monday afternoon after we chatted over the phone:

Since our conversation we have disabled Sarah K. Noonan's profile and apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

Our Asset Project was in no way malicious in intent, but rather it took shape in the spirit of learning about the nature behind building social networks and in particular evaluating the effectiveness of Facebook as a tool for clients to commercialize their products/services.  Our experiment was initiated at the beginning of the year and stemmed from the lack of a standard ROI formula for our clients. 

There are way too many people who claim to be experts in the social media camp. We don't claim to be experts, but rather built our research through old fashioned collection of empirical data.  Since its inception we have not commercialized, nor have gained any revenues through this project.  We have been accumulating data in regards to evaluating interactions through engagement statements, the role of common interests in building social networks and how easily people create relationships through Facebook.

RPCGROUP's experiment may have been intended as innocent marketing research, but more than 480 people just gave a false account access to their information by adding her as a friend.

It rattled a few of my friends to know they had added a phony account. I contacted everyone listed as a mutual friend between Noonan and me, and every person who responded said they didn't know who she was.

Moments like this reveal that we can be too trusting of a simple profile with a pretty face. Luckily for these people, Noonan wasn't a cyber criminal.

Using a fake name or operation under a false identity is a violation of Facebook's policy. The site also has systems in place to flag or block potential fake accounts, according to Facebook spokesman Simon Axten.

"Users who send lots of messages to non-friends, for example, or whose friend requests are rejected at a high rate, are marked as suspect,'' Axten wrote in an e-mail. "We've built extensive greylists that prevent users from signing up with names commonly associated with fake accounts. There's always room for improvement, which is why we have teams of security experts and engineers working on these systems and developing new ones.''

But Facebook didn't catch ``Noonan'' -- and neither did more than 480 people.

When you consider how "she'' operated, it's easy to see why.

"Noonan'' sent a friend request to practically everyone in The Miami Herald's Business section Facebook page with the message: "Hi, I came across your profile in The Miami Herald Business section page. I am currently expanding my network base and wanted to reach out and say hi.''

Sweet girl sending out a sweet message. What fake account would do that? But the account didn't respond to follow-up messages my co-workers or I sent. Red flag No. 1.

A closer look at her profile raised more eyebrows. Noonan never made a status update or shared a link from the Facebook website. She posted via a paid application used by marketers called Sendible, but a Facebook application was created to disguise the Sendible feature, calling itself ``Mobile Phone.'' So all her time stamps ended with "via Mobile Phone.'' You wouldn't know something was weird unless you clicked on those words. Sendible's CEO, Gavin Hammar, told me the paid service used by Noonan was tied to RPCGROUP.

The third red flag: Not one post on "Sarah's'' wall was from a friend, nor did the account ever interact with friends. The posts were meaningless -- such as a music clip from YouTube, a link to a story from another publication or innocuous thought. ("Long day ... calling it a night.'')

Noonan_large David Clarke, CEO of interactive marketing agency BGT Partners in Aventura, saw Noonan's account and said he's seen more marketers use Facebook accounts to promote material.

"In many instances it is better and easier to get friends than fans -- there is very little difference,'' Clarke said. "It is just too easy to scam Facebook and create a fake person -- especially when you use a young, cute girl as your profile picture.''

Cyber criminals and spammers typically won't waste their time putting that much effort into a profile. Kevin Haley, director at Symantec Security Response, said the bad guys usually "hit and run'' on Facebook by breaking into a real account, spreading malicious links and spam until they get caught. It's not profitable to waste time building a fake account and adding friends.

Haley wrote about The Ghosts of Facebook last week when a fake account posing as a Jacksonville University student got 562 friends without even trying to look as real as Noonan did.

Dave Marcus, director of security research at McAfee, said McAfee partners with Facebook's security team. He's found that as long as there's some friend in common, people will trust and accept a friendship.

"It's amazing how many people 'friend' something,'' Marcus said. ``It's that transient trust thing.''

As in the "real'' world, it's wise to check someone out before you add them as a friend. Do a quick Google search on their name. Or send a nice message asking how they know you or where you met.

It's your profile -- protect it. Facebook can block outsiders from seeing your stuff, but it can't stop the people you let in.


Posted by Bridget Carey at 10:58 AM on May 11, 2010 in Facebook , Privacy settings | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)

Growing Google term: how to delete FB account?

Facebook_Badge_02_24_2009 I actually had a friend say to me this morning that she wanted to delete her Facebook account - a sentiment that seems to be growing in popularity.

ReadWriteWeb's done an interesting query on the growing amount of people who are at least asking if they should delete their Facebook account.

Even more interesting is what happens when people actually start the process of deleting their account.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 03:49 PM on May 10, 2010 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

McDonald's, FB close to location-sharing deal?

McDonalds Honestly, when I go to McDonald's, I order a Happy Meal. Or the 49 cent hamburger. But maybe I would go even less if all my friends knew I was going there!

That's the idea behind a new deal McDonald's is working on with Facebook, AdAge is reporting. You can read the full story here.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 05:37 PM on May 7, 2010 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How strong are your passwords?

Think malware is just something annoying, but not costly?

A study out today from Consumer Reports calculates Americans have lost $4.5 billion over the past two years, including replacing more than two million computers, because of malicious programs. (They're livestreaming an event today at 12:30 p.m. to talk about the report)

Something as simple as a better password can help.

I'm the first to admit that I fail at the password protection test. Unlike my super techie friends, my passwords are pretty lame because of my fear of forgetting them.

Bridget and I have realized that it would be easy for the two of us to figure each other's passwords out -- and if that's the case, it's probably not that hard for someone else to do that, too.

This week we're changing that. We're taking control of our passwords and creating a system that makes it easy for us to remember them, but really difficult for others to figure out.

I've probably missed the window for calling this spring cleaning, so maybe think of this as a May e-Cleaning.

To avoid the disaster of forgetting all these passwords once you've created them, come up with a system. Find an odd combination of numbers and or symbols. Don't use your birthdate, or your kid's birthdates, or an anniversary. If you can't deal with a random number combination you make up and memorize, use something like your dog's birthdate, your best friend's birthday -- combinations others can't figure out.

Yes, this is a pain. I've already created several passwords that I've forgotten, but it's just the hassle of clicking "forget password" and waiting for the email to come. This helps you remember your password, and, it's worth it.

Consumer Reports recommends inserting a random symbol into a password as well. To make it easier to remember, find one you like and use the same one each time.

Now that you've gone through the trouble of creating better passwords, be aware of phishing scams that try to steal your login data. If you click on a link that someone's shared with you, and it asks for your user name and password, stop and think before you fill it in: Is this legitimate? If the URL looks complicated for a sign in page, it should raise a red flag.

Do you have a system for managing your passwords?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 09:39 AM on May 4, 2010 in Facebook , Twitter , Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

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