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Tag: Privacy

Facebook Changes Privacy Options for Teens

Posted by JenThorpe at 4:37 PM on October 18, 2013

FacebookParents who have a teenager that uses Facebook may want to take a minute or two and familiarize themselves with a new privacy change. Facebook announced that it is going to allow teens more options when it comes to privacy. This affects Facebook users who are between the ages of 13 and 17.

Previously, when a teenager joined Facebook, his or her posts were automatically set to allow “Friends of Friends” to see that post. The teen had the option to change individual posts to “Friends” only.

As of October 16, 2013, when people age 13 through 17 sign up for an account on Facebook, their first post will automatically be set to be seen by “Friends” only. All future posts made by that teen will be available to “Friends” only (unless the teen chooses to change that option).

In other words, this change allows teens to make a decision about whether or not to post something with the setting of “Friends”, or “Friends of Friends” or “Public”. Teens will also get extra reminders that pop up if they choose to make a post “Public”. The reminder will say:

Did you know that public posts can be seen by anyone, not just people you know? You and any friends you tag could end up getting friend request messages from people you don’t know personally.

If the teen reads that, and makes the decision to go ahead and make that post “Public”, another reminder will pop up. It points out, again, that sharing with “Public” means that anyone (not just people you know) may see your post.

It seems to me that this change might make teens more aware of who, exactly, can see what they post on Facebook. I cannot help but wonder if this might help prevent some of the online bullying that goes on. A teenager who has concerns about being bullied could make all of his or her posts set to “Friends” only. That teen could also remove people from his or her “Friends” list that are problematic.

On the other hand, this change also would allow teens to share all of their posts as “Public”. Parents may want to have a discussion with their teenagers who use Facebook and make sure their teen fully understands that “Public” really does mean everyone can see what was posted.

Google + is Adding Shared Endorsements

Posted by JenThorpe at 3:40 PM on October 11, 2013

GoogleGoogle has changed its Terms of Service in a way that some people are not going to like. As of November 11, 2013, your Google Profile name and photo may appear in Shared Endorsements. In short, this means that your name and image may be placed into advertisements (without notifying you before it happens).

This reminds me a lot of the Sponsored Stories that appear on Facebook. I cannot think of a more obvious way for a social media company to proclaim that it sees users as living, breathing, advertisements.

Neither Facebook’s Sponsored Stories, nor the Shared Endorsements from Google +, will result in paying the people that are includes in ads. One difference is that the Google + Shared Endorsements are not limited to Google +. Your Google Profile name and photo could also pop up in the Google Play music store.

You have a couple of options if you want to avoid becoming part of an ad on Google +. The most obvious way to do this would be to quit using Google +. Not everyone is going to want to immediately go with the “nuclear option” though.

Another way to try and avoid becoming an ad is to go into the Google Account Settings and opt-out. Look for a box that has already been checked for you. Next to that box, it says: Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads. Uncheck that box! Don’t forget to click “save”.

There is another difference between Facebook’s Sponsored Stories and the Shared Endorsements from Google. Facebook automatically assumes that parents of users who are under the age of 18 have given Facebook permission to use their child’s name and photos in ads.

There is a note at the bottom of the Shared Endorsements information in the Google Account Settings. It reads: If you are under 18, you may see shared endorsements from others but your own name and profile will not be paired with endorsements in ads and certain other contexts.

Your Facebook Page Can Appear in Search Results

Posted by JenThorpe at 4:55 PM on October 10, 2013

FacebookFacebook has made yet another change that will affect how private your Facebook page is. A new change will allow anyone who uses Facebook to find your page simply by typing your name into the Facebook search bar. Now is a good time to manually change the privacy settings on your posts.

Michael Richter, Chief Privacy Officer for Facebook posted more information about this privacy change on the Facebook Newsroom blog. Facebook will be removing an old setting that had the clunky name of “Who can look up your Timeline by name?” very soon. The decision to remove it was announced a year ago, but the removal did not happen until now.

He had a few suggestions about how to control what people see on your Facebook page. You are able to change the privacy setting of each, individual, post. Change the setting to Friends instead of Friends of Friends or Public. This can be done for old posts and new ones.

You can use your Activity Log to review what you have already shared. This allows you to easily find things that you would like to delete. Somewhere in there is the option to untag photos and to change the privacy settings of past photos.

The other suggestion is somewhat out of your control. You can ask your Facebook Friends to delete or remove things that are on their pages that you are involved in. Hopefully, your Friends will decide to respect your request.

It is also possible to go into “Privacy Settings and Tools” and limit who can see what is already on your Facebook page. Look for the setting called “Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friends of friends or public”. Michael Richter says this will allow you to limit all of those posts to only Friends “with one click”.

For a while, Facebook will put up a notice that reminds users that “sharing with public” means that anyone can see the post you are about to make. There is one exception. According to CNET, your Timeline will not be visible to the people whom you have blocked on Facebook.

Facebook Admits 6 Million Users Affected by Bug

Posted by JenThorpe at 5:38 PM on June 21, 2013

FacebookFacebook made an announcement on the Facebook Security page that a bug has affected approximately 6 million Facebook users. This bug allowed user’s email and/or phone number to be accessed by people who “either had some contact information about that person or some connection to them”. From the Facebook post:

We’ve concluded that approximately 6 million Facebook users had email addresses or telephone numbers shared. There were other email addresses or telephone numbers included in the downloads, but they were not connected to any Facebook users or even names of individuals. For almost all of the email addresses or telephone numbers impacted, each individual email address or telephone number was only included in a download once or twice. This means, in almost all cases, an email address or telephone number was only exposed to one person. Additionally, no other types of personal information or financial information were included and only people on Facebook – not developers or advertisers – have access to the DYI tool.

The “DYI” tool is the “Download Your Information” tool. The short answer about what happened is that people were using it to download an archive of their own Facebook account. When they did this, “they may have been provided with additional email address or telephone numbers for their contacts or people with whom they have some connection”.

Facebook says it confirmed the bug, then immediately disabled the DYI tool. They turned it back on after fixing the bug. According to Reuters, the data leaks from this bug began in 2012 and were a “year long data breach”.

EFF In the United States we are supposed to have certain rights under the 4th amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

However in today’s world most of us don’t write letters and our “papers and effects” are online. They are on the social media sites we are members of and the websites we visit. So if the FBI comes knocking at the door of the ISP you use, your favorite search company or social media sites you visit and request they hand over your information to them. Will the company simply hand over the information or do they request a warrant.  Another words which company has your back and which company does not.   That is what the (EFF) Electronic Freedom Foundation investigated. This is the third year they have publish this report.   They took a look at 18 tech companies and looked into their terms of service, privacy policies, advocacy, and courtroom track records, to see how they stack up. They looked at the following 6 criteria

  • Requires a warrant for content
  • Tell users about government data request
  • Publishes transparency reports
  • Publishes law enforcement guidelines
  • Fights for users privacy rights in court
  • Fights for users privacy rights in Congress

 

Out of the 18 companies they investigated only two companies received all six stars, Twitter and Sonic.net. Two companies MySpace and Verizon received zero stars. A full chart is available at the EFF website along with a PDF explaining what they looked for and how they evaluated it. According to the EFF they have notice some progress over the three years they have been doing the report, more companies are now letting individual know when a government entity is requesting information about them. It is nice to see that some companies are doing their part to protect our information from the government. Hopefully next year more companies will have more stars

My system crash revealed the one piece left in the Google ads puzzle

Posted by Alan at 3:11 PM on November 19, 2012

For the most part I don’t find that Google ads are such a bad thing. They are relatively unobtrusive and they are generally based on such information as location and web history. Let’s leave alone the privacy implications of those two facts and look more at where I recently noticed that it falls short – although, I confess that this will lead to even more of a privacy nightmare for those who are a part of the tinfoil hat brigade.

It all begins with a sad story. You see, although I have purchased Windows 8, I have procrastinated about installing it and have stubbornly continued to run the Release Preview. Well, last night Microsoft reached out and touched my trusty laptop with an update that rendered the system unbootable. Despite several different approaches to fixing this I came up with no solution other than a re-install.

Don’t cry for me – everything is backed up with redundancy. This is more hassle than anything else.

A reinstall was the approach I took this morning, although it did provide me with the chance to finally move to the RTM. After finishing the setup I moved on to installing my usual apps like Chrome, Firefox, Office, 7-zip and a couple of others. The final step was my document backup which is stored on CrashPlan servers.

After visiting the CrashPlan site and initiating the restore I began browsing the web. What I found was that every site I visited that utilized Google Adsense was now displaying an ad for CrashPlan. Yes, they know my location and my browsing history, but what they don’t know, yet at least, is what services with which I already have an account.

That is the missing piece in this whole puzzle. Google earns nothing by displaying an ad that is rendered irrelevant because, already having the product or service, you have no reason to click.

So, how long before the search and advertising giant finds a way pull in this information as well? It’s certainly in their interest to display ads that make you want to click. It will happen at some point and it will certainly set off alarms with privacy advocates everywhere, but is it really such a bad thing to see something that is more relevant to you? That is the real question that needs to be debated here.

Image: Computer Security by BigStock

Privacy Extinction Event!

Posted by geeknews at 12:06 AM on August 2, 2012

Imagine that you visited a porn site, and when you did your user profile was immediately posted to the site, and every umm article you viewed. While this is extreme, we now have a website doing exactly that. Will the World Wide Web become a place of absolutely no privacy and your every action bared to the world to see.

To date you have been able to visit sites, and the only way people would know you had visited that site or web page, is if you liked the page or something similar!

Privacy on the net is officially extinct. The idiots over at Quora.com have decided that every time a registered Quora.com user visits a page on their site, that they are going to display directly on that very page that you have viewed the page, and exactly how you got there! It shocks me to the core that Quora.com would violate users privacy to this extent!

The simple action of lurking / visiting a web page on Quora is going to get broadcast to everyone in your social circle and the world.

From this day forward, I will never ever visit Quora.com again. Their actions have went to far. I am not surprised that they have stooped to this level of desperation, in their attempt to build greater social interaction on their website. Drastic actions like these makes me wonder what else they have been doing with personal identifiable information.

Industrial Spy Photo courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com

You don’t have to click around too much to find advice on how to protect your anonymity on the Internet. Finding good advice that isn’t simply fear-laden jibber-jabber or link bait designed to get you to pay for an identity protection service is a bit more difficult.

Slashgeek.net posted a brief, but realistic and practical, piece on maintaining anonymity while navigating the Internet. The true sign that this post is a collection of actionable advice and not a panicked plea to save your identity?

Two things – 1. They admit that some people might not mind being tracked across the Internet by websites, ad networks and search engines – it does help those folks deliver more relevant ads to you and, like it or not, advertising makes the web go ‘round. 2. The post tells you the easiest and best ways to protect your anonymity – one of which takes about 5 minutes to accomplish (caveat – you’d have to use Firefox exclusively).

Check out the post from Slashgeek.net. It might be old news for some, but there are a lot of great tips in the comment section, as well. Share any additions you might have to these suggestions.

Siri Storage Habits Have Privacy Advocates Buzzing

Posted by AndrewH at 12:55 PM on May 24, 2012

Image Courtesy Apple

The Internets are quietly humming with the recent realization that Apple is, uh, absorbing your “personal” data if you use Siri – the voice-activated personal assistant (of sorts) that lives in the iPhone 4S (launched in October 2011).

What does that mean, precisely? Well, according to information disseminated by the ACLU, Apple’s privacy policy in relation to the Siri software allows the tech mammoth to harvest, send and stockpile “Voice Input Data” (what you say to Siri) and “User Data” (personal information on your phone, like contacts and associated nicknames; e-mail account labels; and names and playlists of songs on your phone).

This information is sent and stored at a data center in Maiden, North Carolina. From there, it remains murky what happens with your personal data. What does Apple actually do (or intend to do) with this data? No one seems to know, other than “generally to improve the overall accuracy and performance of Siri and other Apple products and services.” (again, according to the ACLU citing the Siri privacy policy, which is damn near impossible to actually find online). How long is it stored? Who actually looks at it and who is it shared with? Shoulder shrugs all around.

So murky is the status of stored Siri data, that IBM recently barred employees from using Siri on its networks – for fear of sensitive data and spoken information might be obtained by Apple. IBM CIO Jeanette Horan told MIT’s Technology Review that employees could still bring iPhones to work, but using the Siri technology would no longer be allowed. To be fair, IBM has also banned other apps, like Dropbox, for fear of information leaking out through file-sharing gaps in security.

This new wave of Siri-related negative news for Apple comes on the heels of a class action lawsuit filed against Apple claiming that they falsely advertised Siri’s capabilities and news that the Samsung Galaxy S3 has become the most pre-ordered device in gadget history with 9 million pre-orders (compared to 4 million for the iPhone 4S last year).

If you’d rather not have Siri enabled on your phone, it’s pretty easy to shut it off. Tap “Settings,”  then “General,” then Siri. Switch the Siri option to “Off.”

GNC-2012-03-26 #753 Privacy Soapbox Time!

Posted by geeknews at 1:05 AM on March 27, 2012

Feeling a 100% better and it is time to have a serious discussion about privacy and actions in the internet and public space. Looking for your feedback in a big way on these issues. Lots of great tech stories to share with you tonight as well.

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Links to all the articles talked about in this Podcast are on the GNC Show Notes Page [Click Here]

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