You can read our blog post that highlights some of the key updates. And remember, these updates don’t change the fact that you own your photos that you post on Instagram, and our privacy controls work just as they did before.
New laws in the states of California and Illinois beef up protection of privacy for social media accounts.
The new laws come in the wake of a new law signed in Michigan that also intend to keep access to social media accounts only to their owners.
In California, two laws will take effect tomorrow that prevent companies and schools from requiring social media account access information such as usernames and passwords from their applicants, employees and students.
Social media accounts protected by the two laws include those on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Furthermore, the laws also protect access credentials to personal email addresses.
The first of the two California laws is Senate Bill 1249 authored by San Francisco Democrat Senator Leland Yee.
“The practice of employers or colleges demanding social media passwords is entirely unnecessary and completely unrelated to someone’s performance or abilities,” said Senator Yee in a statement.
“California has declared that this is an unacceptable invasion of personal privacy,” he added.
The second law is Assembly Bill 1844 authored by San Jose Democrat Assemblywoman Nora Campos.
The assemblywoman has also filed another bill which is essentially the same as Assembly Bill 1844 but for government employees of California.
Senate Bill 1349 protects social media accounts in the public and private education sector while Assembly Bill 1844 protects social media accounts in the private business sector.
“The Golden State is pioneering the social media revolution and these laws will protect all Californians from unwarranted invasions of their personal social media accounts,” Governor Jerry Brown, who signed both laws in September, said in a statement.
Illinois also has a new law that protects social media account access from being required by employers from their applicants and current employees.
The Illinois law takes effect January 1.
The law was previously House Bill 3782 which became Public Act 097-0875.
Essentially, Public Act 097-0875 is the same as the Maruland social media privacy law which was the first law to be signed in the US protecting social media accounts.
“Members of the workforce should not be punished for information their employers don’t legally have the right to have,” Illinois Governor Quinn said in a statement after he signed the law.
“As use of social media continues to expand, this new law will protect workers and their right to personal privacy,” he added.
The Illinois law bans businesses to:
request or require any employee or prospective employee to provide any password or other related account information in order to gain access to the employee’s or prospective employee’s account or profile on a social networking website or
demand access in any manner to an employee’s or prospective employee’s account or profile on a social networking website.
The new laws comes as the issue of social media privacy protection heats up in the US.
Yes, this is about “digital etiquette” and “human decency” on Twitter and Facebook, according to her.
The photo is of the Zuckerberg family standing in a kitchen, looking at their phones with pleasantly surprised expressions. The photo was apparently a reaction to Facebook’s new Poke.
The photo was tweeted by Callie Schweitzer here but it has been deleted as per Zuckerberg’s request to @cschweitz.
In the tweet, Schweitzer said “.@randizuckerberg demonstrates her family’s response to Poke #GAH pic.twitter.com/EHNwJ78b”.
In a reply, Zuckerberg said “@cschweitz not sure where you got this photo. I posted it to friends only on FB. You reposting it to Twitter is way uncool.”
@cschweitz replied: “@randizuckerberg I’m just your subscriber and this was top of my newsfeed. Genuinely sorry but it came up in my feed and seemed public.”
The lady Zuckerberg did, however, accept the apology saying: “@cschweitz I think you saw it b/c you’re friends w/my sister (tagged.) Thx for apology. I’m just sensitive to private photos becoming ‘news’”
She also said: “@cschweitz would really appreciate if you would delete the original tweet where you posted the photo. No need to spread it further. Thanks!”
Schweitzer, who works for Vox media which owns popular sites like The Verge, obliged saying: “@randizuckerberg done. I\’m completely sensitive to privacy. i loved the photo bc it seemed so fun and normal. You should make it public! ;)”
But as the saying goes, anything you put up on the internet can live forever.
Maybe Randi Zuckerberg – being a former Facebook senior executive no less and a sister to the site’s current boss – should have looked more into the privacy settings of her photo.
Maybe she should have also asked for a private tutorial from Mark if she finds the privacy settings of the social network that would always be associated with her last name to be confusing.
She could have always set it to not be seen by friends of friends, but that’s just us.
She does have a takeaway from all the buzz, however, as it has given her an idea for “her next TV show!”
Apparently, the topic of online etiquette elicits passion, debate, anger & Twitter crazies. Guess I just found the topic of my next TV show!
A professional investigator is encouraging social media users to take heed of what they post on Facebook, and he listed things to avoid in online posts.
“What goes on your Facebook page and other Internet sites stays available forever,” says Chris Procopis, a Stamford-based research investigator and managing director of LexPro Research. “A picture of you drunk at a frat party can follow you around for the rest of your life.”
With more time to spend on social networks during the holidays, Internet users should note that recruiters and academic institutions are seriously taking into consideration Facebook and other social networking sites to check backgrounds.
If we count identity theft and more serious security issues in social media channels, the best way to start 2013 is to ponder on what we post on websites like Facebook.
Here is Procopis’s list of what not to post online if you ever consider applying for a job or a school in the future:
Pictures of yourself engaged in illegal or immoral acts.
Stories that depict poor judgment or unwanted behavior on your part.
Links to other pages that show content similar to points 1 and 2.
Negative comments about your current employer (even if you feel these comments are legitimate, future employers will be turned off by what they see).
Users should be more aware of the personal information they reveal in social media outlets, as these are eye candy to identity thieves.
When you share personal data on Facebook, with or without privacy checks, and add people you hardly know or are complete strangers, the risk of an information leak will increase.
Earlier this month, we reported that a new tool is currently in the works to help social media users avoid identity theft by late next year.
The Internet Commerce Security Laboratory (ICSL) at the University of Ballarat in Australia is developing the new tool dubbed as IDThief, which will help social media users thwart identity thieves on the Internet.
Procopis adds that less is more when posting information about yourself and your family:
Don’t post your date of birth, social security number, home address, or telephone number (especially if it is unlisted).
Don’t post your child’s date of birth or birth dates of other family members.
Don’t post times you leave your house unattended (e.g., taking your child to school every day).
Don’t post personal information about you or your family.
Don’t post passwords, home security codes or other sensitive information.
Facebook has denied allegations that some users’ old private messages are leaking on their accounts’ public walls, adding that user privacy remains intact.
The world’s largest social network is charged of exposing users’ private messages to their Timeline, but it claims those messages have always been public and are merely very old.
“A small number of users raised concerns after what they believed to be private messages appeared on their Timeline,” Facebook said in its statement.
“Our engineers investigated these reports and found that the messages were older wall posts that had always been visible on the users’ profile pages. Facebook is satisfied that there has been no breach of user privacy.”
Users were irritated with their messages suddenly appearing in public, and several speculated that the leak bears on nearly six-year-old content.
It appears these users simply forgot how to use the social network and shocked by their own candidness in the posts.
After launching Timeline, Facebook disputed criticisms that the new feature will dampen users’ personal privacy.
“Timeline gives you an easy way to rediscover the things you shared and collect your most important moments,” said its spokesperson.
“It also lets you share new experiences, like the music you listen to or the miles you run. Timeline does not change any of your privacy settings.”
Facebook scans private chatting sessions and posts to catch users who violate its terms or foray into criminal activities.
The world’s largest social networking site immediately calls law enforcement agencies after it finds and flags users who use their accounts for potential criminal activities, reveals Jeffrey Duncan, special agent supervisor for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in an interview with Reuters.
“A man in his early 30s was chatting about sex with a 13-year-old South Florida girl and planned to meet her after middle-school classes the next day,” reads Reuter’s article. “Facebook’s extensive but little-discussed technology for scanning postings and chats for criminal activity automatically flagged the conversation for employees, who read it and quickly called police. Officers took control of the teenager’s computer and arrested the man the next day.”
Duncan gives Facebook a pat on the back for initiating inquiries in the interview, saying, “The manner and speed with which they contacted us gave us the ability to respond as soon as possible.”
Consumer Reports (CR) published the results of a survey on May 3 that showed 13 million Facebook users in the U.S. either do not use or do not know about Facebook’s privacy settings. There are currently about 150 million Americans who have Facebook accounts.
Consumer Report’s annual state of the net report detailed the results of the survey of 2002 households in the U.S. with online access, of which 1,340 had active Facebook accounts. A press release issued by Consumer Reports described how the status updates posted by American Facebook users revealed personally identifiable information that could put themselves or their family members at risk. For example, over the past year, 4.8 million users posted a status update that detailed when and where they were going on certain days, giving thieves a little help for their next robbery.
39.3 million users identified a family member in their profile, 2.3 million “liked” a page having to do with sexual orientation, 4.6 million people talked about their love life on their wall, 2.6 million talked about drinking alcohol on their wall, 20.4 million showed their birth date and year in their profile, and 4.7 million talked about their medical problems on their wall, which health insurers could use against them.
CR in their May press release advised users on how to use the privacy controls on Facebook and stay safe in this brave new world of “frictionless” sharing:
Users are advised to think before they type away in their status update box because everything put out there has the potential to be viewed by so many people, and deleting an account takes about a month and some information stays on Facebook’s computers for 90 days. Second, users should be aware many of the apps available can take their Friend’s information and so they should be cautious about which apps they approve and limit the number of apps they use. For apps that are approved, users should use the privacy settings to limit what information they can take and what they can do with it.
Facebook users should also routinely check their profile to see how it looks to others and what they have shared, or whether an application has shared something they would like to remove. I did just that today on my own Facebook account and noticed that two photo albums I uploaded several months ago were public and viewable to anyone who looked at my public timeline, so I edited the albums and changed the box that said “viewable by everyone” to “viewable by friends only.”
While I was viewing my Timeline as the public sees it, I was also surprised to see that the users I had subscribed to were viewable by the public as were the users that subscribed to me. I don’t mind others seeing that I have subscribed to Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Arrington (TechCrunch founder), Brad Stone (Bloomberg Business Week writer, and Leon Dubinsky (Facebook Software Engineer), so I left that setting public. On the other hand, I noticed that 36 people had subscribed to my public updates, and these people were viewable on my public timeline. This seems like nobody’s business so I ticked the setting to make these people viewable only by me.
CR advises another way to protect your privacy on Facebook is to limit who you share your posts with by restricting certain friends from seeing specific posts on your wall. And, the wall can also be made viewable by your friends only, not the general public. Users should always keep in mind that when they share information with friends of friends, this could reach an audience of tens of thousands of people. Users can limit the audience for their information like where they live and who they work for. If users want to protect their identity on Facebook, they should not include a photo in their profile or if they do, it should not show their face. Users can also turn of the Tag Suggest feature so that their face will not be automatically identified in photos. The Wall can be made “unpublic” so only friends can see prior posts. Last, should users feel they can never feel comfortable about privacy in the Facebook world of frictionless sharing, they can deactivate their account, which will make it temporarily inaccessible, or they can delete it forever,
CR criticized Facebook for allowing users to set up weak passwords, an issue it has documented for the last two years. Users who wish to test the strength of their password can use the LastPass “Security Challenge” by clicking “security check” under the “Tools” menu. LastPass, a website that lets users safely store all of their password, can also generate a strong password for users.
A new poll carried out by the Associated Press (AP) and CNBC found that social networking giant Facebook has some steep challenges to overcome as it moves ever closer to becoming a public company this week. Facebook is expected to start trading on Friday.
The AP-CNBC survey of 1,004 Facebook users, conducted between May 3 and May 7, found that 57 percent of Facebook users don’t click on sponsored content or ads and another 26 percent said they rarely do. Facebook depends on advertizing for revenue, and much of this comes from user clicks on these sponsored ads and content which are important because they tell an advertiser how effective their ads are, and Facebook how much to charge for them.
Eighty-two percent of Facebook’s 1.06 billion in revenue during the first quarter of 2012 came from advertizing sales, although the company is now less dependent on sponsored content than in prior years. In 2009 98 percent of Facebook’s revenue came from advertising sales. David Ebersman, chief financial officer for Facebook, told retail investors that the company is working hard to make ads “more relevant, more social, and more engaging.”
The AP-CNBC poll also showed that just 8 percent of Facebook users feel very safe or extremely safe in using Facebook’s platform for carrying out financial transactions like purchasing goods or services, and 54 percent said they don’t feel safe in doing so, dampening Facebook’s hopes for expanding its e-commerce activities. Currently Facebook’s e-commerce is mainly limited to virtual goods and games, but analysts say e-commerce has the potential to be extremely lucrative and could be important in fueling Facebook’s future growth.
Survey respondents expressed mixed opinions about Facebook’s expected $100 billion valuation for its IPO with 62 percent of respondents who were active investors believing the valuation is too high. Fifty percent of all respondents thought the $100 billion valuation too high, and only 3 percent thought Facebook would be undervalued at this figure.
Older survey respondents tended to think Facebook would not make a good investment while younger people tended to think the opposite: 39 percent of seniors liked Facebook as an investment, compared to 55 percent for baby boomers, 50 percent for Gen-xrs, and 39 percent for those aged 35 and under.
The AP-CNBC survey revealed Facebook has another, more serious problem, one which accounts in part for the lower number of clicks on ads and sponsored content: trust. The social networking giant certainly has impressive and still growing user number at 901 million monthly active members, but people do not feel safe about their personal data while on the social networking site.
A whopping 59 percent of users said they had little or no trust that Facebook would keep their personal information private. Clearly, people like Facebook but in spite of this concern – pc users that have Facebook accounts spend between 6 and 7 hours a month on the site compared to just 3 minutes for Google’s social networking platform Google+, according to recent data from comScore.
A new Facebook privacy encroachment, which may shock even the most carefree social media Netizen, was revealed by Reg “Raganwald” Braithwaite on Friday – apps which have been authorized by a Facebook user may take with it and use a myriad of personal information about that user’s “friends” including birthday, education and work history, location, hometown, status updates, and videos.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into Facebook’s social sharing party, the privacy shark has revealed its threatening dorsal fin under the “Apps, Games and Websites” settings of the user’s “Privacy Settings”. I’m not sure when this option to disallow apps from taking all of my Friends’ personal and private data appeared because, while I may check my Facebook page numerous times a day and occasionally even make a status update, I don’t in fact check my privacy settings every day, and if you are anything like me, or the average user, you also don’t and you also haven’t REALLY read the terms of services before checking the box that said you did.
My guess is that this latest “opt-out” option, the equivalent of someone sending you a message which must be covered with solution to make invisible ink magically appear, was added sometime in the last month or so. Here is what the apps do and this is what you must do to plug the latest privacy hole in the personal information dam and keep the Facebook privacy sharks at bay, at least for a little while:
Click on “Privacy Settings” from your home page on Facebook and from here, you will see, fifth option down, a setting called “Apps and Websites”, under which in small text you are helpfully informed: “control what gets shared with apps, games and websites.”
As a Facebook fan and frequent user, I would much rather this text read something like this: “Tell apps what and how information and data from your Facebook account can be shared. The app will not work unless you do this.” That would be real control, and real privacy. Facebook likes to frequently inform the user that they are “in control” when it seems to me quite the opposite is true.
You will notice after clicking on “Apps and Websites” in “Privacy Settings”, a list of apps and websites you use with the header on the left “Apps you use”. I had a long list of apps that I had forgotten ever giving permission to and have no wish to use now so deleted about 20 of these, leaving 25, like Twitter, MySpace, and movie aggregation website Rottentomatoes.com, then clicked on “Edit Settings” for “How people bring your info to apps they use”. A box then popped up helpfully supplying a surprisingly long list of personal information and data belonging to people in my friend’s list that any app I have approved can now take and use.
The text over this very long list of your friend’s personal data which you the socially carefree and frictionless Facebook user, have helpfully made available to apps simply by approving and using it, explains:
“People on Facebook who can see your info can bring it with them when they use apps. This makes their experience better and more social. Use the settings below to control the categories of information that people can bring with them when they use apps, games and websites.”
Isn’t that lovely! All of my friend’s information – their work and education history, location data, and relationship status, I can bring it with me – it’s mine to use with my apps. Like a birthday present, just for me! Well, just for me and the rest of the world. Raganwald, who wrote about the latest now-you-see-it now you don’t privacy control on his Posterous blog, explains the ramifications of this latest, and perhaps creepiest of all of Facebook’s privacy leaks to date.
BranchOut, an app that creates a professional social networking experience similar to that on LinkedIn, requires the user to agree to let the app receive your “Friends’ profile information, education histories, locations and work histories. “ The real world equivalent of this, Raganwald reasons, quite reasonably, is if I were to go to a headhunter in search of a job, and agreed to hand over to him all of the resumes and similar information for all of my friends.
In order to take back some of your privacy, after clicking on “Edit Settings” for “How people bring info into apps they use”, uncheck all of the categories of information, click “Save Changes”, and watch the Facebook privacy shark swim away, at least for now.
A group of influential MPs and peers in the UK has threatened to pass legislation that will force Internet search giant Google to take measures and address what lawmakers said was breach of privacy in certain online operations, which have come under repeated complaint from alleged privacy intrusions.
A report of a cross-party committee earlier commissioned by the government to look into free speech and Internet privacy concerns today specifically asked Google to introduce an algorithm for the removal of search links suspected of allowing intrusions into private user content.
The MP study came after former Formula One boss Max Mosley complained that he was having problems in removing a video from the internet. The search company had earlier reacted to the complaint, stating that it was not Google’s job to monitor Internet content, a position that the lawmakers said was unconvincing.
The case started when Mosley successfully filed a case against a media outlet that was responsible for posting the subject video online, which Mosley said he had not been able to remove. He told the lawmakers he confronted Google with the problem but the search company said it was not its practice to monitor the net proactively.
In its report this morning, the committee said Google and other search engines should take steps to ensure that breach of privacy issues, for instance, do not arise as results from the use by Internet lawbreakers of their web systems, saying that the search companies should develop the appropriate technology to prevent such breaches.
The MPs threatened to introduce legislation that will compel the search engines to act expeditiously and satisfactorily on the complaints.
Earlier, a court in Japan had ordered the company to remove certain terms from its auto-complete search function after receiving a complaint from a man who said his name repeatedly linked to criminal activity on Google.
Google previously has been adamant on its policy of not censoring content.
According to complainants, Google deceived its users by combining privacy policies for about 60 products into one, and that the privacy “change violates Google’s prior privacy policies.”
Google has declined to comment on the matter stating that it had not yet been served the complaint.
US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating the case of breach of Apple’s Safari browser by Google, reports Bloomberg.
FTC will now have to determine whether Google’s planting of cookies on Safari, bypassing Apple software’s privacy settings, misled consumers about privacy safeguards. Through these cookies, Google was able to aim targeted advertising at Safari users.
FTC would also probe whether Google violated the 20-year settlement that it signed with the commission last year. At that time, Google accepted to have violated its own privacy policies with introducing Buzz social-networking service in 2010.
Google’s settlement with FTC requires Google to follow policies that protect consumer data in new products.
“We will of course cooperate with any officials who have questions,” said Google’s spokesman, Chris Gaither. “But it’s important to remember that we didn’t anticipate this would happen.”
According to Gaither, company has been removing the files since discovering the mistake.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that US and European Union regulators are investigating the case of Google using Safari users’ information and bypassing the Apple software’s privacy settings.
CNIL (The National Commission for Computing and Civil Liberties) is acting on behalf of other European regulators, and is trying to determine whether world’s largest web-search provider’s policies for Android running mobile devices violate European privacy laws.
CNIL is also investigating the issue of information collection by Google using “cookies”.
CNIL has asked Google to identify services which would cause a cookie called “PREF” to be stored on the user’s equipment and collect information from the equipment.
Earlier, Google defied requests of CNIL to postpone implementation of new policies until the CNIL investigation is over.
The Swaylo Facebook app requires users to opt in to give it permission to share all of their profile information, such as location, likes, activities, political and religious views, and further, the app, once permission is granted, also will be able to read the same information about that user’s friends.
Swaylo, which promises on its website to track the impact a user has on their social graph over time “and see how it compares to that of your friends, family, acquaintances, and general public”, began as a side project within Threadsy about 18 months ago. Threadsy was a 2009 startup that billed itself as the “world’s first integrated communication client”, pulling in all of one’s emails, social networking messages, Facebook news feeds and Tweets into one inbox. Swaylo has been a standalone website since only January of this year, but with its 12 employees and $6 million in funding it already boasts a substantial 6.2 million users.
Swaylo’s policy of requiring users to opt in to let its app have access to the profile information of the user, and their friends, is causing some red flags to be raised for users and industry observers, because it once again fuzzies up the always grey area of privacy on Facebook, and in the world of social networking in general. While Facebook’s rules about privacy and third party apps are pretty clear – apps may only collect data needed for it to work and only with the consent of the user – Swaylo’s policy requires the user to consent to letting it have access to the information of people in their friend’s list. This means – one’s profile information could be made available, and used by marketers, even if you, the ever cautious Facebook user, has not granted them permission to do so.
Swaylo says it needs this information in order for its app to function – that is, to make an assessment of that user’s influence on their relatively small social circle, thus differentiating it from another similar service called Klout, which uses data from various social feeds to “measure your influence on social networks.”
Swaylo CEO Rob Goldman, who closed Threadsy down in November because it did not have a sufficient user base, said Swaylo attracted 1 million users in its first ten days. Goldman, explaining how and why Swaylo’s app does what it does, said “The way people interact inside Facebook is much more intimate, [since] you’re interacting with close friends and family, as opposed to Twitter which is much more a public square.” However, Goldman noted a later version of Swaylo will also include an algorithm to include Twitter data.
Swaylo’s algorithm makes an assessment that the act of one clicking on “Like” on any particular news item will influence their friends to do the same, based on how far apart in time the two events take place. For example if I were a user of Swaylo (I most definitely am not) and were to click “Like” on some article in which Mitt Romney slams his rivals in the 2012 presidential race, and my friend did the same within a day, Swaylo’s algorithm would conclude there was more of a correlation than if the two “Likes” happened a month apart. However Swaylo’s program also takes into account other broader activity, such as major national events like presidential debates or primaries, to make its assessment.
Swaylo’s app does several things: its “speed to trends” metric is an assessment of whether a particular user is more likely the one to be informed by others, or to be the one that informs their friends about news, public figures, musicians, celebrities and such. Swaylo determines whether a user is connected with people in very different groups, or tends to be connected with others that all know each other. Finally, Swaylo assigns a rating of between 0 and 10 to assess their influence within their own social network.
Swaylo, which has a business model based on monetizing user data, is currently offering two products, which Goldman has been talking with marketers about. One product offers anonymous reports about specific segments of Facebook users the marketers are interested in; another identifies users that are influential about certain products, so that the marketers can send them freebies and promotions.
Facebook policies regarding app developers clearly forbids the sale of this user data that Swaylo is indeed using: “You will not directly or indirectly transfer any data you receive from us….By any data we mean all data obtained from the use of the Facebook Platform (API, Social Plugins, etc), including aggregate, anonymous, or derivative data).” However, Goldman says that this rule doesn’t apply to Swaylo because it’s not selling data products to advertisers but rather, market research products to brands.
Taylor Valentine, VP for social media and relationship marketing for Horizon Media, praised Swaylo’s granular offerings: “In the midst of all the concern about privacy and cookie’ing, there’s a much more robust, deep, plentiful set of data being shared freely and openly by consumers and about their friends that to me is a lot more personal than a lot of the cookie data.”
Horizon Media is one of the agency executives who have heard Goldman’s pitch about Swaylo can do for them.