Facebook Privacy Basics

In an effort to make their terms and policies easier to understand and to control, Facebook is rolling out Privacy Basics on January 1, 2015.The post, in it’s entirety is featured below.

Updating Our Terms and Policies: Helping You Understand How Facebook Works and How to Control Your Information

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Over the past year, we’ve introduced new features and controls to help you get more out of Facebook, and listened to people who have asked us to better explain how we get and use information.
Now, with Privacy Basics, you’ll get tips and a how-to guide for taking charge of your experience on Facebook. We’re also updating our termsdata policy and cookies policy to reflect new features we’ve been working on and to make them easy to understand.
These updates take effect on January 1, 2015. As always, we welcome your feedback about our policies.
Privacy Basics
Privacy Basics offers interactive guides to answer the most commonly asked questions about how you can control your information on Facebook. For example, you can learn about untagging, unfriending, blocking and how to choose an audience for each of your posts. This information is available in 36 languages.
Along with our privacy checkupreminder for people posting publicly and simplified audience selectors, Privacy Basics is the latest step we’ve taken to help you make sure you’re sharing with the people you want.
Helping you get more out of Facebook
Every day, people use our apps and services to connect with the people, places and things they care about. The updates to our policies reflect the new products we’ve been working on to improve your Facebook experience. They also explain how our services work in a way that’s easier to understand. Here are some highlights:
Discover what’s going on around you: We’re updating our policies to explain how we get location information depending on the features you decide to use. Millions of people check into their favorite places and use optional features like Nearby Friends (currently only available in some regions). We’re working on ways to show you the most relevant information based on where you are and what your friends are up to. For example, in the future, if you decide to share where you are, you might see menus from restaurants nearby or updates from friends in the area.
Make purchases more convenient: In some regions, we’re testing a Buy button that helps people discover and purchase products without leaving Facebook. We’re also working on new ways to make transactions even more convenient.
Find information about privacy on Facebook at the moment you need it: To make them more accessible, we moved tips and suggestions to Privacy Basics. Our data policy is shorter and clearer, making it easier to read.
Understand how we use the information we receive: For example, understanding battery and signal strength helps make sure our apps work well on your device. We ask for permission to use your phone’s location when we offer optional features like check-ins or adding your location to posts.
Get to know how the family of Facebook companies and apps work together: Over the past few years, Facebook has grown and we want to make sure you know about our family of companiesapps and services. We use the information we collect to improve your experience. For example, if you’re locked out of your Instagram account, you can use your Facebook information to recover your password. Nothing in our updates changes the commitments that Instagram, WhatsApp and other companies have made to protect your information and your privacy.
Your information and advertising: People sometimes ask how their information is shared with advertisers. Nothing is changing with these updates—we help advertisers reach people with relevant ads without telling them who you are. Learn more about adsand how you can control the ads you see.
Giving you more control over ads
We’ve heard from some of you that it can be difficult to control the types of ads you see if you use multiple devices and browsers. In the past, if you opted out of certain kinds of advertising on your laptop, that choice may not have been applied for ads on your phone. We know that many people use more than one phone, tablet or browser to access Facebook, so it should be easy for you to make a single choice that applies across all of your devices.
That’s why Facebook respects the choices you make about the ads you see, across every device. You can opt out of seeing ads on Facebook based on the apps and sites you use through the Digital Advertising Alliance. You can also opt out using controls on iOS and Android. When you tell us you don’t want to see these types of ads, your decision automatically applies to every device you use to access Facebook. Also, we’re now making ad preferences available in additional countries, beginning with Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the UK.
We hope these updates improve your experience. Protecting people’s information and providing meaningful privacy controls are at the core of everything we do, and we believe these announcements are an important step.

So what does this mean to the average Facebook user?  More simple controls over your privacy, right at your fingertips. This has needed to happen for some time now, and Facebook is finally responding to requests for a more simplistic and easier to understand policy system.  BUT, as with all terms of service within the digital world, these privacy controls are only as good as the user. So take this opportunity to review Privacy Basics and to review your own privacy settings on Facebook and other social platforms.

Big Brother Is Watching You

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Social media is a force for good. It enables family and friends to stay in touch across the world, enables children to communicate with their friends by smartphone and Facebook, companies to promote their goods through viral seeding and news to spread like wildfire around the globe. It leads to more open societies, more scrutiny of wrong-doers, more accountability through shared knowledge.

So why are some people increasingly disturbed about the rise of social networking, and the technology that facilitates it?

Disturbing Findings 

The news this week that Carrier IQ has been contacted by a US Senator to explain the workings of their smartphone software, with its troubling security and privacy implications, is causing a storm. Carrier IQ insist that the information their software collects is simply to enable their operators to diagnose glitches in the operating systems. But security analyst Trevor Ekhart reports that he found the CIQ software was recording users’ locations, keystrokes and the sites they visited, without asking their permission or offering an opt out clause. In effect the company could record every single action performed on a smartphone without the owner knowing, since the software was installed as standard, and details of it don’t appear on menus. The software has been installed on Samsung handsets and on some HTC Android phones. Carrier IQ initially tried to silence Eckhart by resorting to court action, but digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation intervened. Now Senator Al Franken, chairman of the Senate subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law has weighed into the debate, and Carrier IQ have until 14th December to reply to his letter to them, asking for urgent clarification on the matter. The software is estimated by Carrier IQ to be installed on more than 140 million devices, but Apple have moved to remove the software from the iPhone 4S and other devices running its iOS5 system software.

Privacy and Security Implications 

The spat raises interesting questions about the privacy of our data and the information being gathered by mobile phone operators without our knowledge. If it is possible that our personal information, including the contents of emails, SMS and social networking interaction can be gathered and used without our knowledge and permission, then questions must be raised about the potential for exploitation of this information by hostile parties, or even government.

The recent riots in the UK, during which some MPs called for the suspension of Blackberry’s BBM and messaging system, and Twitter, highlights the threat that politicians feel that social networking capacity poses. They argued that rioters were using social networking to ‘orchestrate’ riots, to co-ordinate attacks on police and to evade detection. The UK government refused to comply with the requests to suspend the service, but later information was gathered from social networking sites and used as evidence during the prosecution of rioters.

Blackberry and Facebook representatives pointed out to a Home Affairs Select Committee that although social media had been used ‘maliciously’ in some instances, it had to be viewed in a balanced way. Facebook and Twitter were use for social good during the riots too, reassuring family that their loved ones were safe, warning to the police about areas to watch, and co-ordinating the clean-up in the following days. Data gathered from Blackberry communications enabled the police to prevent incidents as they were able to follow the thread of planned attacks.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
 

But, as Juvenal asks, who watches the watchmen? If the technology exists to collect this kind of data for commercial reasons, it would be unsurprising if the security services were not keenly interested in the data too. But who decides what sort of activity is deigned ‘hostile’ or ‘subversive’. And where does individual freedom lie? The prospect of governments being able to track citizens through software such as Carrier IQ, without our knowledge, is a hellish vision of the future. What better way for security agencies to monitor terrorist activities? And that’s a good thing, right? Security agencies can already gain access to electronic data retrospectively, in order to obtain convictions. MPs calling for a suspension of social networking sites during times of disorder are opening up issues of privacy, policing and state control that need addressing urgently. We don’t want riots and terrorism, but we don’t want software installed on our mobile phones, which collect private communications without our knowledge either. Big Brother could be just around the corner, and we need to support Senators like Al Franken who are keeping a close eye on this issue.

Those are my thoughts; do you agree or disagree?

Want to connect with me?  That is easy, I am always on!  You can Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, add me to your Circles on Google+ and connect with me on LinkedIn.

 

 

Privacy Online: It’s YOUR Responsibility!

It seems like social networking powerhouse LinkedIn has pulled a Facebook this week.  They opened up their 100 million + users to a default setting that allows names and images to be used  for third-party advertising.  Facebook did this several months ago, and now LinkedIn has followed suit.

Each time news breaks about one of these security settings or one of these social platforms choosing to opt it’s users in to something like third-party advertising, I shake my head.   As users of these social platforms, it is up to us, the users to police our own security settings!!  It is just like locking the door to your house and setting the security system.  These social platforms own your information; and, if you take the time to read most of their terms of service agreements that you agree to when signing up for the service, they state that they can use your information.  Most of them do provide you with methods to opt-out of the third-party advertising parts or allow you to set your own security, but you must do it yourself! 

Take responsibility for your own online reputation, appearance and what is shared or not shared about you!  Every month or every quarter, review these settings, change your passwords and be careful!  Most of this is common sense friends, so take control of your own security and please teach your children to do the same. 

Want to connect with me?  That is easy, I am always on!  You can Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter, add me to your Circles on Google+ and connect with me on LinkedIn.