Archives for posts with tag: facebook

Today marks the start of Privacy Week. It’s timely, given the reaction to Facebook’s Open Graph announcement a couple weeks ago.

As we become more dependent on digital interconnectedness to stay in the know, it’s important to consider the data trail we leave behind — and not just on social networks. Earlier this year, President Obama signed signed a one-year extension of the Patriot Act, a law that was written in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, but which critics say gives the federal government unprecedented surveillance authority over private citizens.

“Having information about other individuals is a very important way of having leverage over them,” says University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey R. Stone.

Watch the short film above. If you’re concerned about your privacy and want to take action, sign the Privacy Week petition to congress, and read the latest information from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). If you’re specifically concerned about Facebook, follow these instructions to opt-out of instant personalization or these instructions to permanently delete your account.

Poynter Online news editor Steve Myers pointed to a Big Money article that smartly and — despite broad strokes — for the most part correctly evaluates the potential value of Facebook’s purchase of FriendFeed.

I’m going to guess you’re intimately familiar with Facebook. FriendFeed, on the other hand, is an aggregation/interaction site that allows users to easily import RSS feeds, collect them in one place, present them anywhere, and comment and vote on posts in others’ feeds.

While Facebook has these features too, the FriendFeed interface makes it very simple to drop in all your social network accounts. And hey, who doesn’t like easy, right?

FriendFeed account import page

In the article, “Now Facebook Really Owns You,” Chadwick Matlin writes:

…[I]magine a social aggregator with the size and sway of Facebook. Users would love it because it would make their lives simpler and more streamlined. The other social media sites stand to gain as well, since Facebook would be pointing more users to content offsite. News sites will get more traffic because people will be clicking through on more links. Facebook, of course, would be the biggest victor: It would be able to get people to check in more often and stay longer. Ad rates can then go up, which helps the company’s bottom line.

He doesn’t explicitly mention one thing: user data. Facebook has a lot of information about you, your friends and your acquaintances: birthdays, addresses, phone numbers, relationships, things you like, games you play, who you pay attention to and who pays attention to you, and — if you didn’t delete your cookies before logging in — other sites you’ve visited.

This is valuable not just to Facebook, but to third-party developers and those who use FacebookConnect. It means companies can get a more accurate picture of who you are and who the people you’re connected to are, in other words, more accurate user targeting.

Businesses are interested in making sure you take a specific action. The more they know about you, your behaviors, and what influences you, the better they can tailor their message to get you to do something.

Yes, Facebook got some very sharp engineers, and yes, real-time search will probably make Facebook a bigger player amongst those who need to know what people are saying now, but for profitability, the game has always been about understanding the user through data. In my opinion, the technologies FriendFeed was built on will allow Facebook to fill in gaps.

One of the most popular posts of 2008 was “What Comes After a Career at a Newspaper?” If you’ve found a new role or started a new business after taking a buyout or being laid off last year, leave a comment to let people know what you’re up to. We’ll also add you to the list.

Lewis Hamilton Indianapolis Grand Prix 2007 by Chris Richards on Flickr

In other housekeeping news, you can now keep up with Ricochet on Facebook. We’re looking for ways to start and integrate discussion in two places at once. If you’ve got some ideas, please share.

And finally, where do you and other local journalists hang out before, between and after hours? Last March, Marketwatch ran a fun video about the closure of famous watering holes for scribblers that, ironically, has itself disappeared.

In today’s age of being socially connected all of the time, is there any value in having a local hangout? If so, where do you and your cohort gather?

Photo: ChrisMRichards/Flickr

Web users are facing an identity crisis. As the public – readers, potential employers, coworkers – continue Googling each other to learn more about who they’re reading, there’s more potential for spoofing.

Daniel Schawbel on Social Media Today wrote a post with some solid advice about claiming your name on popular social networking and blog sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn and

Though the idea of staking a claim on myriad plots of Web territory seems daunting, we journalists are in a business where credibility, trust and reputation do matter.

It’s worth thinking about. And if this sounds familiar, it’s cause this subject has come up before.

Joe Grimm, columnist and the Freep’s recruiting and development editor, guest blogs from the Tools of Change conference in New York, where members of the book publishing industry are discussing their future. — Chrys

Book publishing’s tectonic plates shifted a little more Monday as HarperCollins said it would publish books for free on the Web and Random House said it would test selling books by the chapter.

As their world shifted, hundreds of book publishers, librarians and authors tried to learn how to keep their footing at the O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference in New York.

Stephen Abram Opens TOC Conference in New YorkStephen Abram, vice president for innovation at SirsiDynix, opened the conference by kicking holes in near folkloric arguments that people don’t read anymore and that the young don’t know anything. He pushed publishers to move beyond Web 2.0, in which anyone can contribute, to Web 3.0, where networks reign.

Content king? No, said Abrams. Context is.

He described a phenomenon that is the opposite of continental drift in which Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and a host of social networks are hooking together. Smart publishers will thrive in an online social world.

Second Life, for example, has 5,000 visits a night to its library, which is staffed 80 hours a week.

Abram urged publishers to get into the networks and follow the lead of its customers, asking for their opinions.

“Are you still threatened by Google? You should be threatened by Facebook,” Abram said. He predicted that most of today’s Web 2.0 companies will fall by the wayside and that focusing on just one or a couple of them distracts from the real change.

The change is already happening, Abram said, with 300,000 people joining MySpace every day and 35 percent of its users posting content every day.

Devices are changing just as rapidly. He put up a slide that showed that a device the size of an iPod will be able to hold a year’s worth of video by 2012, all commercial music ever created by 2015, or all content ever created by all media by 2020. And the United States is woefully behind other parts of the world in its use of mobile devices.

But the solutions and the answers won’t be in any particular Web site or device, but in understanding audiences and letting them in on the fun. Abram said, “If you’re still trying to create a destination site, you’re messing up.”

Abram blogs at Beyond the Job.

The Tools of Change conference is at New York’s Marriott Marquis Feb. 11-13.

There’ve been some rumblings that Facebook has jumped the shark. (Recall the mid-October Jossip survey about annoying Facebook habits.)

SiliconAlleyInsider yesterday noted that’s political reporter Facebook pages are bombing. This could just be because they chose the wrong subject to launch with. Or because people are just really tired of the political campaign, which seems to have gone on too long already.

I predict within the next 12 months we’ll see users trickle out Facebook’s door and head to the next networking site.

Marshall Kirkpatrick at took a look at the upgraded features in While they look very attactive, I’m getting tired of signing up for yet another social network that will ultimately flame out.

So what does this mean for news organizations? A huge opportunity to further engage a loyal audience and bring in new readers/community members/eyeballs.

Social networks require four things:

  • a community of active users who can connect from any device — desktop, laptop, phone
  • a way to send private and public messages (including comments) to each other and to groups
  • a repository for files of unlimited (or at least very large) size and a way to tag, search and connect those files to other content
  • good, unique, content (which, for news organizations, should be a piece of cake)
  • a way to search, select and rank all types of files, comments, users and content, and share the data anywhere

Think you can do it?

Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the Beacon mess yesterday, and added a way for all social ads to be turned off — at least within Facebook.

But if you logon to the site, the “Privacy Settings for External Websites” page has a rather confusing message.

Facebook External Sites Privacy Page

On the one hand, the page says, “Please note that these settings only affect notifications on Facebook. You will still be notified on affiliate websites when they send stories to Facebook. You will be able to decline individual stories at that time.”

On the other, it says, “Don’t allow any websites to send stories to my profile.”

Clarity. I’d like clarity.

Computer Associates did some more digging around today and didn’t like what they found. While the privacy announcement is a good first move, they said, data that users now assume isn’t being transmitted still is, and Facebook has not put their privacy policy into their legal notice:

The silent transmission of data about actions on third-party websites to Facebook poses a serious risk, and must be mitigated by both prominent notice to the user, and a binding commitment on Facebook’s part to handle the data properly.

Nevertheless, yesterday’s announcement seemed to placate the masses. Caroline McCarthy at CNet News got some Beacon partner reaction.

Personally, I think what caused so many problems for Facebook’s Beacon launch was arrogance and perhaps greed. They’ve been through the privacy riot before, when news feeds were first introduced. They could have done better, it’s true. But given their past experience, they should have done better by putting their users, and not their advertising partners, first.

Late Thursday night, Facebook finally caved and said they’d turn Beacon into an opt-in rather than opt-out program, though you have to opt-in on a site-by-site basis.

Despite the change, one concern raised by many remains: Beacon still appears to collect your information and send it to Facebook, even if you don’t opt in.

The question then, as Nate Weiner points out, is what does Facebook do with that info?

Seems to me you have a few choices if you want to stay on Facebook:

  • You could just accept that Beacon exists and not worry about it.
  • You could be vigilant and use the Firefox BlockSite plugin and block*. (Nate has visual instructions.)
  • You could avoid the companies that have signed up with Beacon, if you can figure out just who those companies are.

At launch, there were 44 partners. I haven’t found all of them, but from the FAQ, they include, Blockbuster,, and Dotspotter (both part of CBS Interactive), eBay, ExpoTV, Fandango, Gamefly, Hotwire, IAC brands (CollegeHumor, Busted Tees, iWon, Citysearch, and echomusic), Joost, Kiva, Kongregate, LiveJournal, Live Nation, Mercantila, National Basketball Association,,, (RED), Redlight, SeamlessWeb, Sony Online Entertainment LLC, Sony Pictures, STA Travel, The Knot, TripAdvisor, Travel Ticker, Travelocity, TypePad, viagogo, Vox, Yelp, and


Business Week and the Financial Times are reporting that Facebook may modify its social ad platform Beacon.

But as Business Week points out, that could put the company in a difficult position. Advertisers who signed on were expecting a boon from Beacon, if not in profit, then at least in goodwill. Facebook was also counting on Beacon to bolster its valuation. But users have threatened to abandon the service and smear the company name — this isn’t the first time members have accused the site of invading individual privacy.

Executives can huff all they want about privacy being an illusion in a digital age. But this latest backlash seems to be more fodder for public claims that big business is out of touch with real-world expectations.

First there was concern over Beacon.

Then came the launch that Faced a thousand users.

What followed was the public and predicted invasion of privacy outcry, Facebook’s claim of implied consent, and’s petition.

It seems people either weren’t seeing the social ads that showed just what they’d bought and where they made their purchase, or they didn’t understand that they only had 20 seconds to opt-out of having the ad posted on their Facebook feed.

Now comes news that Facebook announced a change to its social ads, but as Wendy Davis points out:

When pressed about how the statement distributed to the media yesterday reflected any changes, the spokesman said, “We fixed a technical issue to be sure the first notification fully displayed since some users were missing it.”

Well, if that’s the case — if Facebook’s “fixed” something so that the notifications it intended to launch with actually work — it’s hardly worth bragging about.