Reuters social media editor Anthony De Rosa pointed us to what appears to be a new section in Facebook’s help center which addresses the many commonly held myths about the platform. You know your brand is seriously distrusted when you have to devise an entire help section dedicated to dispelling the half-truths told about it.
The vast majority of the questions relate to privacy issues–the eternal thorn in the company’s side–and how Facebook uses the troves of personal data mined from its users. Some examples:
Last night, news broke that Facebook had beta launched a new mobile ad network that allows advertisers to make bids on ads based on Facebook’s trove of highly specific user data.
It’s a natural move for a company that’s most prized possession is its database of fleshed-out stats, collected in painstakingly detail for every person who’s ever signed up for Facebook. The company knows your interests, your friends, your location, age and gender–after all, you volunteered that information for them to happily gobble up. Now, all that info is being channeled into ads for apps and websites outside the Facebook environment.
Privacy is Dead
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun implementing a $1 billion face recognition program that will probably scare everyone outside of law enforcement. NewScientist reports that the Next Generation Identification (NGI) program will lump iris scans, biometrics, DNA and even voice prints into one formidable profiling tool and some states are already using the program in a limited fashion. The whole thing will be in effect across the country in about 2 years. NewScientist addresses the privacy problem:
Privacy is Dead
“CryptoParty” sounds like an event involving strangers in balaclavas and Guy Fawkes masks sipping cocktails and staring unblinkingly at each other. That might be fun, but a CryptoParty is really, according to this wiki, a gathering of “Interested parties with computers and the desire to learn to use the most basic crypto programs.” CryptoParties are practical efforts to assist private citizens in learning how to combat what many activists contend is a creeping Orwellian surveillance state in developed countries worldwide.
In a post published a few days ago, the Australian edition of SC Magazine elaborated:
If you were somehow tricked into thinking you still had any semblance of privacy in our great nation, please think again. Wired reports that the federal government has stated that you have “no reasonable expectation of privacy” when it comes to location data transmitted by your cell phone, thus giving them the right to review your location history without a warrant.
There is no safe way to upload your stuff to The Pirate Bay without taking pains to conceal your IP address. Many who are addicted to torrents know this–unless, apparently, they’re Americans who get their Internet from Comcast or Road Runner.
Torrent Freak reports that researchers from multiple institutions have been logging data from BitTorrent network users for a while. On the surface, their intentions don’t seem nefarious:
Think of the Children
Ronald McDonald probably isn’t the first person who comes to mind when parents think “internet dangers,” but you probably don’t want your kids getting unsolicited emails about the glories of french fries, either.
Well, bad news: The New York Times reports that several advocacy organizations have filed a complaint with the FTC, alleging that Micky D’s and four other companies–Viacom, General Mills, Subway and Turner–are exploiting a legal loophole in their online marketing to kids.
In true corporate fashion, however, these companies aren’t doing anything so straightforward as simply asking for 9-year-olds’ email addresses. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act in fact requires sites to get parents’ “verifiable consent” before they can collect the personal info of kids younger than 13.
Nowadays Facebook is very cautious around the third rail that is sexual orientation. Sure, there’s a timeline icon just for gay marriage, but the company won’t serve up ladies seeking ladies to advertisers. But that wasn’t always the case.
Digiday has gotten its hands on an interesting piece of Internet history: the social network’s very first pitch to advertisers, from way back in spring 2004. The site was still thefacebook.com, it was only available on select college campuses, Peter Thiel hadn’t invested yet and that random dude was still chilling in the upper lefthand corner.
However, Eduardo Saverin was already talking up the site’s biggest advantage: data, and the targeting that allows advertisers to do.
Two more execs are leaving Yahoo. Call it the “Mayer effect.” Or is that the term for bringing Googlers to Yahoo? [AllThingsD]
The social media sector has LinkedIn and Yelp to thank for boosting its image by meeting their projected revenues. The rest of y’all look like chumps. [Wall Street Journal]
Hey everyone let’s freak out and say you can’t read Quora anonymously. But psst…you can. Just change your settings. Problem solved! [GigaOm]
Au revoir, piracy police. At least in France, anyway. [PaidContent]
Yes, you can go to jail for admitting to rape on Reddit. Also, you’re a monster. [BuzzFeed]
Skype has taken to its company blog to reassure users that recent structural changes do not mean Skype has enabled snooping capabilities for itself or The Authorities. In a post titled, “What Does Skype’s Architecture Do?” Skype corporate vice president Mark Gillett did his best to refute the main allegations that have piled up since Skype was purchased by Microsoft. According to Mr. Gillett, worries that Skype’s changes were made to enable spying are pure paranoia: