Geek. Pirate. Mom

The Life and Times of Whitney Drake

Posts tagged 'privacy'

On her own terms.

On Sunday I watched The Golden Globes, which culminated (for me) in Jodie Foster receiving the Cecil B. DeMille award. TheBoy and I watched it, and were touched by her candor and wit.

So I was surprised to see so many negative responses to her speech, though not surprised that the people who didn’t like it didn’t seem to have listened to all of it.

There were complaints that she mocked coming out, but then came out anyways by thanking her ex-partner, and co-parent of her two boys. But most of her speech was about living her life on her terms. She didn’t understand the need for statements, reality shows and putting everything out there- she spelled it out, that she just lived a normal, boring life. She’d already been out to everyone who mattered to her, so she simply thanked the people who were important. And only came out because she felt the need to make sure that everyone knew why those people were important.

Some people assumed she was retiring. She merely said she wasn’t interested in playing the game. That she wasn’t going to chase awards or big movie deals. That she would tell stories that were personal and important to her- that it would be the telling that was important.

I wonder if they actually listened to what she said, or were instead upset that she didn’t say what they expected?

In other news, BlogHer shared my post about CES and Booth Babes! I never know what post will catch someone’s eyes, and I’m grateful for the response it’s gotten.

Instagram: What you need to know.

Since was originally posted, there have been developments from the story. I’ve marked the updates down at the bottom.

Not that long ago, Facebook acquired Instagram. They integrated it into Facebook, and the internet rejoiced.

Well, today Instagram began informing users about their updated Terms of Service- mostly to bring them more into line with Facebook’s own ToS.

I’ve blogged about Facebook’s ToS and Privacy settings before, and one of Facebook’s more controversial features was the roll out of their social ads- which take activities that you make (liking pages, comments, etc) to advertise a service. It didn’t take long before they allowed you to opt-out of it.

Why am I mentioning FB’s social ads?

“Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”

That’s part of the Instagram ToS. Essentially, they’re rolling out ads, and will be using your photos, data and even the metadata from your photos. And you don’t get any compensation.

Not only will there be ads, but Instagram notes that they probably won’t even be clearly marked as ads. And as of right now, there is no way to opt out from any of this.

This next part of the ToS is even more important:

Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, except that you can control who can view certain of your Content and activities on the Service as described in the Service’s Privacy Policy, available here:

That’s right. By having your photos on Instagram, you’re agreeing to let them use your photos royalty-free. You can adjust who sees some of your data, but they can use your data how they want.

Wil Wheaton weighed in with how these changes might affect celebrities. I’d already been thinking about the artists I knew who used Instagram to share works in progress, but Wil’s perspective hits a lot of the same issues I saw.

The changes to Instagram’s ToS goes into affect January 16, 2013.

As of right now I’m still on Instagram, but will be deleting my account before then. So for the next couple weeks I’m going to be trying out different camera apps (some with social features, some with just sharing capabilities) to see if there are other alternatives out there that might work.

If you have an Instagram alternative that you like, comment on this post! I can only review Android apps, so keep that in mind. (I’m going to try to find ones that have apps for both iPhone and Android)

Update: 12/18 1:45 pm It would seem that Instagram noticed the backlash on the internet. Mashable reports that they will be having some discussions about the Terms of Service.

Of course, who knows what that means.

Update 2: 12/13 6:45 pm Instagram blogged about the backlash, admitting they weren’t very clear in the way they wrote it (actually, they said that we just misinterpreted it because legal jargon is so tough). Ads will be coming to Instagram, but they won’t be selling your photos to be used in ads. And they’ve already removed the verbage that made it seem as though they were going to use your pictures and name in ads- very similar to Facebook’s social ads.

While I completely understand that Instagram needs to make money, this “admission” feels more like them simply trying to cover their asses. Because frankly, it isn’t that hard to say that they’re going to roll out ads and allow brands to show that you’ve liked pictures of theirs.

(Of course, they didn’t address the bit where they said they wouldn’t divulge which posts were ads at all- which frankly is a disappointment.)

Update 3: 12/20 6:45pm Instagram released another statement, one that’s less snarky than the first. They’ll be rolling back to the original ToS so far as the advertising section is concerned, and will be holding off on the advertising until they can explain fully how it will impact users.

The Wired Mom: Facebook and Privacy

Yet again, on Facebook, there’s a slew of copy/paste statuses claiming to protect your privacy. It seems to happen about once a year, and out of the 300+ people I follow, I wind up seeing a fair amount of these.

This time, this is the post that’s going around:

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!

(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates

Is it true? NO. Just by searching for Facebook privacy copyright brings up a definitive no.

Essentially, when you signed up for Facebook you agree to their Terms of Service, which includes the assignment of IP and privacy. While Facebook does keep adjusting their terms (and they do! Most sites do, though they typically warn you of it), there’s nothing you can do to to say you don’t approve of the changes after initially accepting their terms. Well, you can always delete your Facebook account.

If you see a copy/paste message pop up on Facebook, please do yourself, your friends and your family a favor before you copy/paste it. Google the text of the message with the word hoax. Odds are, that will lead you to some news posts or a Snopes story indicating whether it’s real or it isn’t. Taking that 5 minutes (at most) is all it takes to save you from spreading misinformation.

And if you don’t want to listen to me, listen to Boromir:

And now I wish I had a Ned Stark “Brace yourself” meme for this, too.

Really, Facebook?

As I’ve said here many times, one of the things that frustrates me to no end is Facebook’s policy of changing your settings without telling you. They’ve done it many times already (I tend to do a check of my settings around the first of the month, even though I don’t really post much of anything there anymore). And they’ve done it again.

Facebook is putting your facebook email address on your profile/timeline. I know, Facebook has email? Sort of. Facebook has assigned everyone an email address based on their username, and if someone emails it, it will go into your message inbox.

Of course, their messages aren’t really great for email. One, they’re all threaded by who sent the message, so it makes it hard to find any particular message other than the most recent. So if you were looking for something your sister said, you’d have to look through EVERY message she’s sent you. Also, you can’t back them up.

Back to the real issue- Facebook’s settings now list your facebook email on your profile/timeline, even if you had it set so that it wouldn’t show your email. Where you’ll go to fix it depends on whether or not you’re using Timeline.

For people using the older profile, go to your profile page, and where it lists your personal information at the top, click on Edit Profile. Then, from the menu on the left, select Contact Information. Your email addresses will be listed at the top. You can adjust who can see your email addresses (the closest you can come to opting out is by setting it to “Only Me”) and next to it you can pick whether or not it will list it on your profile/timeline.

If you have Timeline, click on the Update Info button. Scroll down to the Contact Info box and click on Edit. Then you can adjust who can see your email addresses, and set whether or not you want to list them on your timeline.

For me, it’s frustrating that Facebook continues to change settings. If their IPO has proved anything, it’s that they aren’t as in demand as they think. Most people I know didn’t buy their stock because they remember the dotcom bubble bursting. They’ve seen websites come and go- remember when everyone had AOL? Now they’re struggling to stay relevant!

They like to think that they’re what people can’t do without, but all it takes is one website to give people what they want, and they’ll leave. That’s what happened to Myspace and Friendster. People left ICQ for AIM, then AIM for texting. It’s only a matter of time before one of two scenarios happens- either FB crosses a line with privacy that people are uncomfortable with, or someone creates a new site that makes you opt-in when they release new features.

Skirting the law to get kids on Facebook.

A survey came out recently where parents admitted that they let their kids use Facebook before they were 13, the legal minimum for nearly every website on the internet.

Is it a good thing to skirt the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)?

I honestly don’t think so. I’ll be honest, I was a teenager as the internet first became available, and made a lot of mistakes in my early days. I learned about the skeezy older men who were on the lookout for teenagers, before there was “To Catch a Predator.” I learned about the importance of anonymity very quickly. And that was when all you pretty much hung out on Usenet in AOL’s chatrooms or message boards. There’s a lot more out there, and a lot more people on the internet.

Kids are pretty trusting. In fact, most of us are. I have a relative that puts all sorts of information on her Facebook wall. All of it is publicly accessible- she doesn’t seem to keep anything back. While she’s an adult, I can only imagine how bad things could have been if she had internet access as a 12 year old.

So what is COPPA? It’s a law that sets guidelines about how much information websites can get from kids younger than 13. Ever play any of the Disney website games, like Pixie Hollow (that’s built around Tinkerbell’s pre-Peter Pan adventures)? Even if you’re an adult, there isn’t much of a chat function. As a matter of fact, there’s no real way to know who is on the other side of that pixie you’re playing. All because COPPA won’t allow it, to protect your child’s privacy.

While it’s possible for kids’ game sites to build communities that protect them- can you imagine trying to make that functionality for a site like Facebook? As it is, 13 year olds can’t be publicly searched for or have public profiles. There’s been discussion about amending COPPA to reflect younger users, but until then, if you skirt the law- it’s your responsibility and yours alone when it comes to your child’s internet safety.

If your child is going to be online prior to age 13 (or really at any age), here are my tips:

  • Become an expert in social networking privacy settings. Your kids won’t bother making sure that their profiles are locked down tight.
  • Teach your kids to only add people they know and trust in real life.
  • Make sure your children know that posting on the internet is like having a conversation in a crowded room. It might seem like you’re only talking to the people in your immediate circle, but if they tell another person- you have no control over what happens beyond that.
  • Show them the Wayback Machine. Let them see that once they’ve posted something, it’s there forever.
  • Make sure they understand that nothing is free on the internet. Sites sell your personal information, and while you might know that an offer for a free iPad will lead to nothing good, they won’t. They’ll see it as a shortcut.

Any other things that you would add to this list? What do you think- do you let your kids on the internet?

Day 2 of NaBloPoMo

I’m Not In Love with the New Facebook

This post has been a long time coming. Okay, a couple of weeks. Not that long ago, Facebook unleashed a giant update to their site a couple days before announcing their new profile- the Timeline.

With most large sites, when they’re about to roll out a big update, they let you know. Remember “New Twitter”? Twitter had a link at the top of the page asking if you wanted to try it. They also talked about the changes on their blog. Whenever Gmail rolls out new features, it’s the same deal- links at the top of the page and in depth explanations on the blog, usually with videos to help explain the features.

Facebook tells you that they’ve added one feature, while neglecting to tell you that they’ve completely redone the back end of the site.

This update was no different. It added the Ticker, a constantly scrolling mini-Feed in the upper right of the corner, which had already appeared as a Game Ticker when playing games in Facebook. It added subscriptions, which allows people to follow you (or you to follow people) like you can on Twitter or Google+, no mutual relationship involved. But more importantly, it completely shifts the way that your privacy is handled.

Subscriptions. I actually like this- it allows people have one account (as opposed to a Facebook Page & personal account) and simply decide what’s put out their by using the “Public” privacy setting, and using lists to control who sees the rest. Not only that, but you can decide what sort of posts you like to see from your friends. Say you have a friend who plays FarmVille all day long, and you just want to see when she posts pictures of her kids? You can turn off the subscription to her game posts- or decide you just want to see “important posts.” Or, say you have a person you only added for game posts, you can say that you don’t want to see anything but their game posts.

There are a few ways to play around with your subscriptions. You can go to your friend’s profile page and in the upper right corner, you can adjust what you subscribe to by hovering over the subscribe button. Or you can hover over a friend’s profile picture in your news feed and up will pop a screen with the subscription button (you can also unfriend people this way as well). The last way is to scroll down to the bottom of the facebook page. You’ll see a bar that has two links. One to load more updates and on the right to “Edit Options”, which is what you want to click on. A window will pop up with a list of your friends, and there’ll be another link for “Manage Subscriptions”. This will show an entire page of your friends, so that you can just scroll down and adjust what you see. The first thumbnail in this paragraph will take you to a screenshot of where to find the Edit Options and Manage Subscriptions. The second thumbnail will show you an overview of the subscriptions page itself.

I have two problems with how subscriptions were rolled out. First, Facebook decided that you want to see “Most Updates” from your friends, instead of “All Updates.” So if you want to see everything, you’re going to have to change that. But the bigger problem is that they don’t have a way to change your subscriptions globally. Meaning, if you want to see “All Updates” – you’re going to have to change it friend by friend.

Privacy. There has been a huge shift in privacy with this New Facebook. Instead of you being able to control precisely who sees what, a lot of the privacy settings are now in your friends’ hands. My default status post privacy setting is “Friends Only”. Say you comment on a status of mine. Facebook will broadcast that you’ve commented on that post within our mutual circle of friends. Now, say it’s a post that I’ve set to “Public.” It will broadcast to all of your friends both in their news feed and ticker that you commented on a post of mine. There is no way for you to opt-out of this yourself. You either have to ask your friends to turn off “Comments and Likes” from their subscriptions options, ask them to stop posting with the Public setting, or only post comments on posts that you’re comfortable with the whole world possibly knowing what you said.

The Game Ticker. This went live about a month ago, and is actually sort of helpful. You can see when your friends are playing, and when they’re likely to help out by sending you things. But at the same time, if you’re playing while at work, you’re also broadcasting to the world that you aren’t actually working. Or that you’re playing Fluffy Princess Monkey Ninjas (I just made that up, but feel free to use it for a game).

Unfortunately, Facebook didn’t make it easy to opt-out of this either, but there is a way. While you’re in a game, you’ll see posts pop up on the right. Hover over the post that says that you’re playing whatever game it is. It’ll expand it, just the way the big ticker works. From there you can mouse over the upper right of the window and click on the little arrow button. A drop down will appear. Click on “Don’t Publish is playing ‘Game Name’ posts”. And voila! All of those posts will be gone. (The thumbnail here shows you what I mean)

Of course, you’ll have to do it game by game. But at least you can hide them.

Facebook, I expect changes. I don’t care about changes, as I expect them regularly- but if you’re going to dump a major change on your users, make sure that you keep something the same. The privacy controls are completely different, in addition to the changes that were made. And make it so that you have detailed walkthroughs so that users can actually see how to handle what they’re doing. While I don’t want to help you too much, you’re letting your users get information on how to use your product from tech bloggers. You roll out product changes, expecting the power users to figure it out (which they do), but alienate your base of users by not warning them or explaining what you’ve done.

To the users out there, if you’re unhappy with the shift in privacy and want to try something else- there’s always Google Plus. It’s in open beta now (you won’t need an invite), and all you’ll need is a gmail address/google log in.

As a final note, I hate blogging about Facebook. It takes FOREVER to hide all the names and user pictures. So I hope you enjoyed my Gaussian blurring and pixelating.

Does the internet really need me to check in?

Yesterday Facebook announced (and began rolling out) its new service Places. Which is essentially a check-in service ala FourSquare, only built into Facebook.

Also, they oh so helpfully enabled it for you. (That was meant to be sarcastic – I’ll be posting later on about helpful ways to lock down your Facebook’s security). But for now, lifehacker has a great post about how to disable Facebook Places. (Just don’t forget to look at the Applications and Websites subsection)

As some might have noticed, I’ve gone to great care to not broadcast where I live. I do not actually live in Los Angeles. I live in the Greater Los Angeles Area, but I try not to say exactly where. If I mention shopping on Twitter, it’s usually as I’m leaving or when I’m home. Even then, it’s just the store name, and not the exact location. I don’t mind tweeting about vacations, as I live in a house with 5 other adults. As silly as it sounds, someone is always home. However, having not mentioned exactly where I live, I’m not exactly broadcasting a vulnerable location.

There is a method to my madness. I’m extremely uncomfortable about broadcasting where I am- not just for privacy’s sake, but because I have been stalked and obsessed over. And creepily, they didn’t involve the internet at all.

Read More…

Why I’m in favor of anonymity

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I know, it seems ridiculous for me to say that I back internet anonymity when I blog under my maiden name and tweet with a derivation of it. Part of the reason that I use it for my blog is that it is my maiden name. I don’t have my address under this name, cell phones… or even anything that one could use to trace me prior to when I got married.

I use it for writing and artwork because it’s who I started off writing as. Thankfully now, it’s given me the opportunity to be able to separate my life as Mrs. TheBoy and Mommy from the Fabulous WhitneyD. Which is nice. I can tweet vaguely about my personal life without worrying that strangers might find my husband and know things about our life. (This is also why I don’t blog or tweet about anything that’s too personal)

In addition, I’ve been stalked in the past. The first time was in high school, there was a young man who was interested in me that went to great lengths to tell me of this. After I informed him that I was no interested, he made it very clear that he would be wherever I was, he would be there. And he was. It wasn’t a harmless crush, as the school and his mother said. At Disneyland, there were a few annual passholders that would figure out what my schedule was and would show up. (All but one of them was harmless. The other one, well, my managers went to lengths to keep him away from me and the other women he stalked in the park.)

These were things that all happened before the internet was readily available. My name wasn’t out there, with addresses and whatnot. If any one of those things happened today, it is entirely possible that they would be able to find out where I live, where I visit… not good at all.

So why am I bringing this up? I’ve already said that people should try to lock their Facebook account down as tightly as they can. Because Blizzard- who I paid plenty of money to playing “World of Warcraft” has announced that when it introduces its Cataclysm event, their forums will begin using the full names you registered your accounts with.

This is a problem. While it would eliminate people having multiple accounts with the sole purpose of promoting themselves online, it suddenly exposes real identities to trolls and internet bullies. It exposes the real name of that cute girl in the guild who goes by a pseudonym to keep the creeps at bay. Those geeky celebs who play Warcraft like Felicia Day or Mila Kunis? Don’t expect them to ever post on the forums in the future, or to stick around the game in general.

They seem to think that it’ll force people to behave responsibly if their name is attached to it, but honestly? People are jerks on Facebook under their own names. While yes, it will expose who the jerks really are- at the same time, all it’s going to do is make a lot of people think twice about participating in a discussion because they know that they could be putting themselves at risk of harrassment in the real world. And nobody plays Warcraft for that.

I admit, I miss the days that I wrote fanfiction under my pseudonym and blogged about every aspect of my life on LJ using that name because I knew that nobody would find me. It was freeing, that I could separate those aspects of my life. As much as I enjoy blogging here under my name, part of me misses that freedom. (I do occasionally write fanfiction, but it stays saved on my computer) However, I remember deleting email addresses (I’ve always used multiple ones to keep the creeps at bay) and changing screennames because of unwanted attention from people. And I have been grateful that at the most, they only knew that my name was Whitney and that I’m from CA. Hard to pick out the exact Whitney from that information.

If you happen to play a Blizzard game, have in the past, or plan to- please… please do your part and let them know that this is the wrong decision. It’s one thing to make a unified account that any game links to- it’s another to force everyone to do it under their real name.

Spin it, Facebook Exec!

Just a couple days ago, I posted my thoughts on the latest Facebook changes. While I tackled the privacy issues first and foremost, there are other concerns. All my interest information is public- and there’s no way to opt out of that, other than to delete it entirely. Not only that, Facebook adjusted how my personal data is used with advertising as well as how it can interact with other sites. Rather than give the opportunity to set those controls manually, Facebook assume that I’d want to join their new program and let my friends share all my information with websites.

So when I saw that the NY Times had Facebook Executive Elliot Schrage (vice president for public policy) sit down for a Q&A session in which he’d answer questions that they’d selected from reader questions, I wanted to see how he’d respond. Read More…

Dear Dad, Sorry I introduced you to Facebook

Dear Dad,

I’m sorry I introduced you to Facebook. No, I don’t mean it like that! While I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about family members who overshare, post embarrasing photos, you’ve been wonderful. Honestly, it isn’t you at all.

It’s Facebook. When I recommended that you join Facebook, it was because it was the top ranked social network. True, they did have a history of changing interfaces, but those are easy to get used to. True, they did say that anything you uploaded on Facebook would be their property for all time- but a lot of people complained, and they rolled that change back.

I thought they’d learn, but clearly Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t. He’s stated openly that he believes that privacy isn’t the way of the future. Even as they introduced privacy controls to allow users to decide who sees what statuses, they sneakily reset everyone’s privacy controls to default to allowing Everyone to see what you post.

Read More…

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